Very rare and unusual sunset with green flashes and whale spouts


This is one of the weirdest sunsets I have ever seen.

This is quite a fancy show: Lots of waves on the inversions; strong asymmetries in the shape of the Sun; multiple green flashes; And then you got the whale spouts…

On September 24, 2016, at sunset, Mila Zinkova was looking west from Pacifica CA when something strange happened:

The sun split into multiple layers and green flashes. But, that wasn’t the strange thing. Temperature inversions above the ocean surface frequently distort the setting sun off the Califonia coast. Now take a closer look at the picture. Where did that vertical pillar of light at the bottom come from? It’s a whale spout!

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Of course the sunset was unusual not because of whales, but because of a very complex, multiple inversions. While the lowest sun was setting, producing some green flashes, the upper suns were not in a hurry to set and kept disappearing and reappearing. via SpaceWeather

Here the explanation of an expert, Dr. Andy Young: I think there are at least three ducts! Notice the different levels at which there are intermittent green beads that come and go, especially toward the end of the video. The highest and lowest of these coincide with discontinuities in sky brightness, which suggest you were looking up through a duct at that level.

All of the ducts are well above you, which makes it a little difficult to make sure exactly where they all are. But notice how many multiple (although strongly compressed) images of the full Sun there are; so you certainly have a Novaya Zemlya display here.

And then you got the whale spouts, relatively near shore! This is quite a fancy show. Lots of waves on the inversions; strong asymmetries in the shape of the Sun; multiple green flashes (though not very green); and I would also note that the transient beads at the elevated ducts look very much like cloud-top flashes — so much so, that I think they help explain cloud-top flashes as caused by a duct at the capping inversion. This seems to be the missing link in the cloud-top flash story. Maybe I should consider cloud-top flashes as an extreme case of the sub-duct flash? I should do some simulations for an observer well below a strong duct. Lots of good stuff, all mixed together here! Thanks for the link!”


Just another mysterious sunset on the California coast…

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