Rainbow Colors in Cirrus Clouds Over Los Angeles

Circumhorizontal Arc Segment Over the San Fernando Valley, Near Los Angeles

Colors in the sky other than blue and white quickly catch the eye. This afternoon, just before driving over to Ahmanson for a run, I noticed a peculiar band of vivid spectral colors mixed in with a patchwork of high altitude cirrus clouds.

The bright band of color was in the wrong place to be a sundog, but because of its association with the cirrus clouds was likely some type of halo. Ice halos are formed by the refraction and reflection of light by the facets of an ice crystal, such as those found in cirrus.

When I got back from the run I checked online and found Les Cowley’s Atmospheric Optics web site. This site provides a wealth of info about ice halos and other optical atmospheric phenomena. The web site even makes available software to simulate various halos.

Circumhorizontal arc fragment over the San Fernando Valley, near Los Angeles, on May 29, 2019.
Circumhorizontal arc fragment over the San Fernando Valley, near Los Angeles, on May 29, 2019. Click for larger image.

The height of the sun above the horizon, the height of the band of color, and the prismatic sequence of the colors and their brightness all suggest the band is a segment of a circumhorizontal arc.

While not an everyday phenomenon, the circumhorizontal arc is more common at Los Angeles’ latitude than a higher latitude city such as Seattle or London. If 0 degrees is the horizon and 90 degrees is directly overhead, the circumhorizontal arc can only be seen when the sun is higher than about 58 degrees. When the photo above was taken, the sun was at 69 degrees.

The circumhorizontal arc is typically formed by hexagonal flat plate crystals oriented with their large flat faces horizontal. Rays of sunlight enter through one of the edge faces and then exit through the bottom face of the crystal.

Now that I know when and what to look for, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more ice halos.

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Jon Sutherland Runs Every Day for 50 Years — and Counting

Jon Sutherland with United States Running Streak Association President Mark Washburne and several other U.S.R.S.A. streakers.
Jon Sutherland with U.S. Running Streak Association President Mark Washburne and other U.S.R.S.A. streakers.

The morning was overcast and — remarkably — there was a 70% chance of rain. An eclectic group of runners was gathered at the Victory Trailhead of Ahmanson Ranch to celebrate Jon Sutherland’s run streak of 18,263 days.

Included in the group were Chaminade and Notre Dame High School athletes Jon has coached, a four-time Olympian, an NCAA Division II Men’s Cross Country Champion, CSUN hall-of-fame teammates, members of the United States Running Streak Association, and many, many of Jon’s good friends.

CBS 2 Los Angeles interviews Jon Sutherland regarding his 50-year running streak.
CBS 2 Los Angeles interviews Jon Sutherland regarding his 50-year running streak. Click for larger image.

Jon Sutherland is #1 on the U.S.A. Active Running Streak List and has the longest active streak in the world. Running every day is tough. Heck, it’s tough enough to brush your teeth every day and that only takes a couple of minutes. Jon has run through strains & pains, illness, injury and tragedy. He’s maintained his streak through two knee operations, hernia surgery, and several fractures.

Except for a few rogue sprinkles, the rain held off for most of the morning. Following a short run up to Lasky Mesa, the group reassembled at the trailhead to recognize Jon’s accomplishments.

Olympic medalist and long-time friend Rod Dixon presented Jon with a signed print of a superb oil painting by Tom Ogiela of Herb Elliott’s world record-setting gold medal finish in the 1500m in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Four-time Olympian, Rod Dixon, presents Jon Sutherland with a print of a painting by Tom Ogiela of Herb Elliott's world record-setting gold medal finish in the 1500m in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Four-time Olympian, Rod Dixon, presents Jon Sutherland with a print of a painting by Tom Ogiela of Herb Elliott’s world record-setting gold medal finish in the 1500m in the 1960 Rome Olympics. Click for larger image.

Mark Washburne, President of the United States Running Streak Association, then presented Jon with a commemorative plaque and a lifetime membership in the association.

Then it was Jon’s turn. Story-telling is an art at which Jon excels. His poignant story was about the painting of Herb Elliott.

Tom Ogiela, a Sutherland-family friend, was only thirteen when he did the painting. Jon told him, “that one day I would become a good enough runner and Herb Elliott would see his painting.”

Jon Sutherland's thank you to those that have supported him over 50 years of running.
Jon Sutherland’s thank you to those that have supported him over 50 years of running. Click for larger image.

Tragically, Tom was killed as a result of a construction accident at age 20. With the help of Rod, Jon was able to fulfill his vow to the young artist. Herb Elliott did indeed see the painting and the print presented to Jon was signed by the Gold Medalist. The full story is in the Summer 2019 edition of The Streak Registry on the United States Running Streak Association Home page.

Jon wrapped up the event by thanking his family and friends and all those that have helped him along the way.

Congrats Jon! And we all look forward to being back at Ahmanson on July 4, 2021, when your run streak reaches 19033 days and becomes the longest on record.

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Poodle-dog Bush Near the Top of the Mt. Wilson Trail

Poodle-dog bush (Eriodictyon parryi) growing along the Mt. Wilson Trail about a half-mile from the top.
Poodle-dog bush near the top of the Mt. Wilson Trail. June 15, 2019.

The Mt. Wilson – Chantry Flat loop is a favorite that I run a couple times a year. Including a little bonus mileage to get to the Mt. Wilson parking lot before the gate opens, the run is about 18 miles long and gains/loses about 4500′ of elevation. The main trails in the loop are the Rim Trail, Gabrielino Trail, Upper Winter Creek Trail and Mt. Wilson Trail.

The weather was perfect for today’s run. Sunny at the beginning, then partly cloudy for the 4000′ climb from the “green bridge” below Chantry to the parking lot on Mt. Wilson. Although there was a lot of poison oak on the Rim and Gabrielino Trails, it was mostly avoidable. About 30 minutes into the run, I was surprised to hear the unmistakable gobble and rustling of a wild turkey high on the Rim Trail.

Near the end of the loop, on the section of the Mt. Wilson Trail above the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, I saw two solo hikers brush against new, vigorously growing patches of Poodle-dog bush (Eriodictyon parryi). I spoke to them, and they were unaware that, like poison oak, Poodle-dog bush can cause an itchy rash. Some people don’t react at all to the plant and others can have a severe reaction. My own experience is described in this post.

Poodle-dog bush is a fire follower that grows in the San Gabriel Mountains, and some other areas. It became very widespread following the 2009 Station Fire. There are still some diminishing patches of Poodle-dog bush on the north side of Mt. Wilson (and elsewhere) from the Station Fire, but the Poodle-dog bush on this part of the Mt. Wilson Trail is a result of the 2017 Mt. Wilson Fire.

Some related posts: Contact Dermatitis from Turricula parryi – Poodle-dog Bush, Mt. Wilson – Newcomb Pass – Chantry Flat Loop, Misplaced on Mt. Wilson, GSU Mt. Wilson CHARA Telescope Array

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Fire Followers Along the Backbone Trail

Fire poppy (Papaver californicum), a fire follower, along the Backbone Trail west of Sandstone Peak. May 18, 2019.
Fire poppy along the Backbone Trail.

Fire followers are plants that grow in a recently burned area in much larger numbers than before a fire. In some cases the species may rarely have been observed in the area prior to the fire.

A good example of a fire follower is Poodle-dog bush (Eriodictyon parryi), which became widespread in the San Gabriel Mountains following the 2009 Station Fire.

A wet rain season also increases the population of many species. Combine a fire and wet rain season and plant distributions and populations can be dramatically altered.

Large-flowered Phacelia (Phacelia grandiflora), a fire follower, near Tri Peaks. May 18, 2019.
Large-flowered Phacelia near Tri Peaks. Click for larger image.

Yesterday, I did a long run in the Santa Monica Mountains that included several miles of the Backbone Trail between Sandstone Peak and the Danielson Multi-use area in Sycamore Canyon. This area was burned in 2018 Woolsey Fire and there were some stunning displays of fire followers and other wildflowers.

Star lily was one of the earliest fire followers to bloom in the area and remains prevalent, but the champion fire follower at the moment is large-flowered Phacelia. Before the Woolsey Fire it would be unusual to see this plant on this section of the Backbone Trail. Now its purple-blue flowers blanket large areas along the trail.

Although not as numerous as the large-flowered Phacelia, I’ve never seen so many fire poppies along the Backbone Trail. Its orange-red color is striking and stands out sharply against the brown, charcoal-infused soil. Also more abundant this year is the vibrant yellow collarless poppy.

Here is a slideshow of some of the wildflowers seen on the run.

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Tarantula Hawk with a Tarantula

Tarantula hawk with a paralyzed tarantula.
Tarantula hawk wasp drags her hapless prey to her burrow.

I was running down a narrow trail at Ahmanson Ranch, concentrating on the irregular terrain, when I suddenly found myself jumping over something on the trail. As my consciousness caught up, it asked,

“Was that a tarantula?”

“What tarantula has a stripe of orange on its back?”

Landing, I stopped and looked back up the trail. Totally unperturbed, a female tarantula hawk wasp, its bright orange wings gleaming in the sun, was diligently working to move its paralyzed prey to a nearby burrow.

The quintessential elements of a nightmare, I watched as the large wasp assessed the huge spider. I could hear the question as she turned away from the spider, and then reading the ground with her feet and antennae, determined if she could drag the beast uphill over a small bump. Then, question answered, she proceeded to do so.

Here’s a 30 second video of the wasp with the spider.

Related post: Tarantula Hawk, Sting of the Tarantula Hawk, September and October are Tarantula Months

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More Weekday Wildflowers

Wildflowers photographed on weekday runs from the Victory Trailhead of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve.

Over the past two weeks more than 15 species were added to my Weekday Wildflowers slideshow. These are wildflowers photographed on weekday runs from the Victory Trailhead of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve.

Some related posts: Chinese Houses Along the Sheep Corral Trail, Weekday Wildflowers

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