GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – A good sunrise doesn't need much help to look beautiful. And if it did, you probably wouldn't think it would come from rain.
But that's what happened Sunday morning in western Colorado, as a passing shower – at just the right time – made for something special. The key here: The rain never touched the ground. Instead, it fell from clouds just as the sun was rising, producing a glow of red streaks across the sky.
Check out the picture captured by forecaster Michael Charnick at the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.
☀️ A beautiful #sunrise over Grand Junction this morning from the NWS office, captured by one of our forecasters. The red streaks are known as 'virga' - precipitation falling from clouds but not reaching ground. The rising sun briefly illuminated the virga around 6am today. #COwx pic.twitter.com/uRLMVz4M9f
— NWS Grand Junction (@NWSGJT) June 30, 2019
This type of rain, known as "virga," isn't uncommon, especially in a more desert environment like we see on the Western Slope. The rain falls from the clouds, like any normal shower, but once it hits dry air closer to the ground, it evaporates. Virga will even show up on radar. It just won't reach the surface.
It's one reason why drought conditions can be hard to break, the National Weather Service explains – even when it rains, it doesn't. But it also makes for a great sunrise, if the timing matches up like it did Sunday morning.