Imagine you’ve planned a trip to see the Grand Canyon, only when you get there, you find yourself experiencing a rare happening that few people see. On Thursday, December 11, USA Today reports the people who visited the Grand Canyon National Park that day were in for a real treat. A rare fog filled the entire cannon, and the view was breathtaking.
The staff of the Grand Canyon National Park posted on their Facebook page that it “almost looks like the tide coming in and going out.”
This rare phenomenon creates the illusion that one could simply walk across the canyon. A staff member at the park said rangers wait for years to see this, and photographers flock for the opportunity to get the shot of a lifetime.
What exactly creates this majestic event?
CBS News explains that the event is called a “total cloud inversion” which occurs when clouds are forced down by warm air and can’t rise. It generally happens during the night when the sky is clear, there is little to no wind, and the ground begins to quickly lose the heat it had stored all day.
Brian Klimowski, the National Weather Service meteorologist in Flagstaff, Arizona, reveals to USA Today, “A cold, moist air mass settled into the canyon during the week, eventually creating a 500-foot thick ‘low stratus deck’ of clouds. Along with it came a fog that hovered at the canyon rim or spilled over.”
This kind of total cloud inversion usually happens once every decade, although this is the second time this has happened in two years, making it very unique to say the least.
Erin Whittaker, Grand Canyon park ranger, explains to the Daily Mail that when the fog gathered at this time last year, there were tourists who were extremely disappointed they couldn’t see the Grand Canyon in all its glory, or the Colorado River below. But Whittaker goes on to say that she and other Grand Canyon rangers tried to explain to them “just how lucky they were to see the cloud-covered canyon.
All the while, locals realized the rareness and flocked to the Grand Canyon, even running to the rim to get photographs of the surreal moment.
For those who didn’t get to experience seeing the 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and up to more than a mile deep Grand Canyon filled with clouds, pictures will have to suffice.
[Photo Credit: Facebook.com/GrandCanyonNationalPark, Daily Mail]