Here's why this morning's sunrise was extra spectacular

Coloradans were treated to an especially vivid sunrise Wednesday morning.

KUSA - Did you know there's actually a sort of 'recipe' for a great sunrise?

Monday morning’s show was spectacular, and there are some weather ingredients that came together just right to make it possible.

The recipe? Clean, dry air, some thin cloud obstruction on the eastern horizon, and a sheet of high clouds overhead to capture and scatter the light.

The sun’s rays contain light that spans the whole visible spectrum, from violet to red. The light is scattered by molecules in the atmosphere.

The violet and blue side of the spectrum gets scattered more than the others. That is why the sky is mostly blue during the day.

When the sun is low on the horizon, there is more atmosphere that the light must pass through, thus more scattering. That reveals the yellows, oranges, and reds.

If there are some thin clouds on the horizon, that helps to scatter those colors even more.

The final ingredient is the high clouds above. That presents a canvas for the colorful sunrise light to project onto, and reflect down to the surface.

This is what happened along the Front Range of Colorado Monday morning.

Have a great sunrise photo? Upload it here

Knowing the importance of these ingredients allows some short range prediction to be possible.

A group called SunsetWx has developed a sunrise and sunset computer prediction model based on data from the NAM mesoscale model.

They have not revealed the exact properties entered into their model, but this morning’s sunrise was accurately forecast by the model, as you can see in this image. 

View all of our user sunrise photos here!

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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