First Alert Weather In-Depth: Looking for a rainbow | WHEC.com

First Alert Weather In-Depth: Looking for a rainbow

Glenn Johnson
Created: May 04, 2022 07:27 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It was a very drippy, dreary day for Rochester. Certainly not one of our better weather days, but we see some changes coming. We have some drier air that is located just to the west of Toronto, Canada. And that dry air is definitely filtering into Western New York.

But why is that significant? The answer is there is a very small possibility that we could see one of these rainbows. But I need to stress that conditions have to be just right for viewing. The ingredients that go into viewing a rainbow include several things. A lot of the success comes down to your location or positioning. It is important where you are located in relation to some of these weather elements. 

First, you must be between the sun and the rain.  In other words, the rain is going to be on one side of you and the sun is going to be on the air on the other side. Second, the sun has to be close to the horizon or near sunset or sunrise. The sun has to be less than 42 degrees above the horizon to get that optimal view that we love to see. Third, the rainbow appears opposite the sun, so ideally the sun would be behind you and the rain shaft would be in front of you. 

Keep in mind that the larger drops are the best way to see a brighter rainbow. Remember, each one of these raindrops acts like a prism that bends and refracts the visible light. That is when we see the spectrum of colors. And we all need a little rainbow in our lives from time to time.


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