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Day 51: Sun + Snow = Clouds, at least in summer

Sunshine melts snow, but it also turns it into vapor which tends to rise and later condense into clouds. At McCall Glacier, we have the neat opportunity of watching this happen before our eyes. Today was a sunny, clear day, at least on the synoptic scale of regional weather. But once the sun rose high enough to increase its energy flux to the surface, it began creating clouds locally. Because our camp sits within a bowl shaped valley, we can watch the sun as it swings from the east to the west in a big circle and heats up the backside of our valley walls. So when the sun is in the east, we see clouds forming directly behind our eastern valley wall, and as it swings to the south we see clouds there but not in the east, and so on. To better visualize this, I took a sequence of panoramas throughout the day, as well as setup a time-lapse camera to show the processes.


(Click on the panorama and drag to look around, press Shift to zoom in, Command (Mac) or Control (PC) to zoom out.) Enlarge this panorama


East clouds. Enlarge this panorama


South clouds. Enlarge this panorama


West clouds. Enlarge this panorama


North clouds. Enlarge this panorama


Unfortunately I mis-programmed the camera so it ended early, but it gives the sense of local cloud formation.

This process of sun vaporizing snow can create more than just clouds

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