Noctilucent clouds dazzle; mixed sun and showers this week

It was a rare and beautiful show Saturday night across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Noctilucent clouds high up in the atmosphere glimmered after dark in the northwest sky.

Noctilucent clouds form 40 to 50 miles up high in the atmosphere. They are so high up they catch the sun’s rays even after the sun is well below the observer’s horizon.

The geometry of noctilucent clouds. NASA

They are usually seen at high latitudes in summer. Here’s a good explainer from earthsky.org

What are noctilucent clouds? Noctilucent clouds form in the highest reaches of the atmosphere – the mesosphere – as much as 50 miles (80 km) above the Earth’s surface. They’re thought to be made of ice crystals that form on fine dust particles from meteors. They can only form when temperatures are incredibly low and when there’s water available to form ice crystals.

Spotty showers this week

We’ll see plenty of sunshine Monday. But some cold air aloft meant the atmosphere will be a little ticklish this week. Look for a few isolated thundershowers to run southeast Monday afternoon. More scattered rains arrive later Tuesday and Wednesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NAM 3 km resolution model gives you the idea of a few renegade pop-up showers dotting radar scopes Monday afternoon. No severe weather risk areas are in place from NOAA.

NOAA NAM 3 km model between 1 and 7 p.m. CDT, via tropical tidbits

Refreshingly cool

Highs mostly in the 70s this week will feel pleasant. Temperatures move back toward 80 degrees by next weekend.

NOAA via Weather Bell

Tornado myths

I remember people saying open the windows a crack (to equalize pressure) and get into the southwest corner of the basement when I was a kid. But then again I was a burgeoning weather geek.

The bottom line is, get as low as possible and put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible. Quickly.

Here are some more tornado myths.

  • Johayan

    I saw them and got some pictures thinking they /might/ be NLCs but I wasn’t sure if it was just some odd lighting of the thunderstorm anvils from the activity much farther to the northwest. Unfortunately, being in the parking lot of the Champlin Target didn’t help get great pictures of them but it’s obvious there’s something cool in the sky!

  • Rita M

    I saw those and got photos as well Had no idea what I was seeing at the time, but it was so ethereal and beautiful! Thanks for the explanation!