Vancouver Islanders woke up Wednesday to a sunrise full of red, orange and yellow hues, something that caught people’s attention and, ultimately, left them in awe.
Numerous people sent sunrise photos to CHEK News, including Julie Boyer in Nanaimo. She says she marvelled at the sky before taking a dip in the ocean.
“It was a ‘pinch yourself’ morning,” said Boyer. “All I could think about was how incredibly lucky I am that we get to live here to see this.”
Ron Lea, also from Nanaimo, said, “This morning’s sunrise was a stunner,” while Leanne Hockley of Victoria told CHEK News she captured a photo of “this glorious sunrise when I stepped outside for some morning inspiration.”
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Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, credits the head-turning sunrise to some moisture, saying mid and higher-level clouds are needed for light scattering, which is what happens when the sun is low in the sky.
“It’s scattering away the blue and purple end of the spectrum, so you’re left with the oranges and reds,” he said. “That’s what makes beautiful sunrises, in terms of colour.”
Castellan also points to pollution, like smoke and pollen, because it generally increases the scattering and creates more of those eye-popping colours.
“There is always salt and dust and a base amount of pollution in the sky, and that is why you will always see those colours in the rising and setting sun,” he said. “Here, the wildfires, the volcanic ash, those will accentuate those reds and oranges.”
But it’s really “in the eye of the beholder,” explains Castellan. He says it may feel like Island sunrises and sunsets are the most beautiful, but that could be because they’re seldom seen here.
“We have, typically, a lot of low clouds because we’re right next to the Pacific, and we get a lot of moisture, and we’re renowned for it,” he added. “On those rainy days, we don’t get much of a sunrise or sunset. When we get one, maybe it seems of a higher quality.”
So compare that to Lethbridge, Alta., where it’s “typically the least cloudy place in Canada,” says Castellan. In that city, people may see many striking sunrises, so they become so used to them that the displays become “ho-hum.”