Not too long ago, on Friday, November 29 one natural wonder of the world was engulfed by another spectacle. To be specific, the Grand Canyon was the site for a rare atmospheric phenomenon called a temperature inversion. The result of such an occurrence produced a rare, if not heavenly sight. The entire massive canyon was engulfed, overflowing with dense fog.
The folks over at the National Park Service were no less spellbound by the ultra-rare occurrence as they posted this on the Grand Canyon National Park’s Facebook page,
“We are currently experiencing an after Thanksgiving treat. No, it’s not more pumpkin pie. It’s a once in a lifetime, outstanding, crazy, amazing, mind blowing inversion. Enjoy.”
Looking like a gigantic witches’ cauldron, inversion clouds are produced when cold air is trapped near the surface as warm air moves in from above. The humidity in the colder air thus causes the fog. Lots and lots of it. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, a winter storm passed through the park, setting the ideal conditions for such a phenomenon. This left the ground practically frozen, with cold temperatures obviously lingering.
“We had a widespread rainstorm a few days before—very, very wet snow,” said Darren McCollum of the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Flagstaff, Arizona. “Every place was pretty wet. Within a day, it all melted. The ground was super wet.” As luck would have it, a high-pressure front bringing in dry, warm air moved in, merging with the wet ground and balmy valley temperatures to produce the temperature inversion. Rangers and visitors couldn’t have been more elated. A reprise of the uncommon event even occurred again on Dec. 2.
Smaller inversion events occasionally happen, however they typically come on cloudy days and fill just small segments of the canyon. In contrast, the Nov. 29 inversion blanketed the entire canyon, and it was clear day to boot. This occurrence only happens once every 10 years, according to Park Ranger Erin Whittaker. “Rangers wait for years to see it. Word spread like wildfire and most ran to the rim to photograph it. What a fantastic treat for all!” wrote the rangers on Facebook. For the lucky few that went to see the depths of the fabled canyon, they saw something much more stunning.
See a the amazing temperature inversion as it happened here.