Archive for September, 2015

The Mysterous V Cloud Explained
September 30, 2015


Courtesy: Jim Walker

Did you look up at the sky on Sunday night? If you did, you were probably looking for the Blood Moon. But many residents in Orange County were treated to more than a Lunar Eclipse Supermoon — they got to witness this V cloud. Many of the people who saw it, took a picture and sent to the NBCLA Facebook page.  Lots of people were creeped out, but there is a scientific explanation.


I’m sure all of us have seen clouds like the one pictured above. They are called contrails, short for condensation trails. These are artificial clouds that form behind aircraft. They are created by the water vapor in the exhaust of aircraft engines. At high altitudes this water vapor emerges into a cold environment, and the vapor then condenses into tiny water droplets which freeze. Depending on the temperature and humidity at the altitude in which the contrails form, they may be visible for only a few seconds or minutes, or they may persist for hours and spread to be several miles wide.


Courtesy: @Dalemazing

Now check out this picture. We see the same V cloud or V contrail during the day eight weeks ago in Vancouver, Canada. An airport is on the other side of the mountain. Why the V? At this moment the airplane reaches the altitude where a contrail can form. You have two airplanes coming in for landing at different times, the base of the V is where both planes converge and begin their descent. The timing is perfect.


Courtesy: @k2rick4

We checked the flight patterns from LAX Sunday night and planes were coming in for landing from the east.  Notice the top part of this picture. It’s the same type of cloud pattern but a different airplane approach. The reason the V in this picture is short is because once the plane reaches a certain altitude where the temperature and humidity will not support cloud formation, the contrail disappears.  The V is the point where the two airplanes at different times come together and begin their descent.


Here is the flight pattern from Sunday night for LAX, you can clearly see the V pattern as the airplanes come in for landing in red.  The conditions for a contrail to form is between 12,000 and 13,000 feet.

Stealth fighters must be keenly aware of the altitude where a contrail can form. There would be nothing worse than a stealth bomber flying a mission and everyone on the ground sees the jet.  Special thanks to pilot and meteorologist David Biggar for the help.


Of course, there is always this explanation. Too bad this show got canceled by NBC after one season.


Last Blood Moon of 2015
September 22, 2015


A blood red moon seen from Houston, Texas on April 15, 2014

The last of our four blood moons of 2015, or four total lunar eclipses, is this Sunday night, Sept. 27.  Typically there will be two lunar eclipses a year, and they can be partial, penumbral or total. You’ll have to wait more than two years to see the next total eclipse, which will be on Jan. 31, 2018.

To have four total eclipses, or a tetrad, in a row is an extremely rare event but not unprecedented. Between 1600 and 1900, there were no tetrads. What is also unique about this tetrad is all have been and will be seen in the United States.

A total eclipse of the moon is when the moon falls completely into Earth’s shadow. The moon turns red because all of the light from the sun is blocked, and only the color red is reflected to the moon. If you were on the surface of the moon and looked at Earth, you would see every sunrise and sunset around the world on the edge of Earth — and that color would also be red.

It will also be a supermoon or the full moon that is at its closest point to Earth in it’s monthly orbit, also called the perigee.  If you live along the coastline watch for this full moon to bring wide ranging spring tides.  That is, high tides climb extra high and low tides fall exceptionally low.  The next Supermoon/Lunar Eclipse won’t be until 2033. This full moon is also called the Harvest Moon, the moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox.

Eclipse Visibility

On the west coast, the eclipse will occur during moonrise. If the skies are clear, we’ll be able to see the moon turn a blood red early in the evening.

In Los Angeles at 6:07 p.m. Sunday, the moon will begin to move into Earth’s shadow. Because moonrise isn’t until 6:43 p.m., we will not see this.  The total eclipse begins at 7:11 p.m. with the peak at 7:47 p.m. Totality ends at 8:23 p.m., and the moon moves out of Earth’s shadow at 9:27 p.m.  This image shows it well.


Right now it looks like a great forecast for Southern California with clear skies. If you get a great picture of the Blood Moon, please post it on my Facebook page, or tag @anthonynbcla on Twitter or Instagram and include #NBC4You. Your picture may get on TV.


This is my all time favorite blood moon picture captured by Mike Mezeul II.  This is his time lapse from the Texas Hill Country.


This is a really good YouTube video explaining everything about the blood moons the past two years.

You may have heard how the blood moons signal the end of the world or the apocalypse. These total lunar eclipses fall on the same days as the Jewish feasts of Passover in the spring and Sukkoth (Tabernacles) in the fall. This website looks at past blood moons and attempts to make a correlation of bad things to come.

If you’re in Houston, this total eclipse will begin at 9:11 p.m. and end at 10:23 p.m. In Albuquerque, it will begin at 8:11 p.m. and end at 9:23 p.m.