Thursday, January 11, 2007

Waiting 192 hours for 2.5 hours of Heaven

After spending 8 days in Charlottetown, PEI and an additional 4 hour delay due to heavy fog, I am again airborne and climbing through what appears to be a summer time cloud deck. The temperature through 1000 feet AGL was 15 degrees Celsius compared to the 3 degrees on the surface. A warm front is approaching from the west as we depart and we end up climbing initially to FL280 and into a 100 knot direct head wind just to get some sunshine. My co-pilot tends to seem cold blooded as we level off in the sunshine, as he sits his chin on the dash and closes his eyes and soaks up the much needed sun. We had a few nice days of weather on our layover but there is nothing like soaking up the suns rays at altitude in the smooth air as we literally fly off into the sunset. As we are passing 14,000 feet or so there was a break in the clouds and a halo appeared around the sun. I was a little slow on the draw but this is the best picture example of what I saw.

Westbound FL280 direct to MAIRE intersection. Just ahead past the first band of cloud is a cold front moving towards the Maritimes. We had descended to FL200 to get out of the wind but then needed to climb back up to stay clear of the bumps and icing which were in the clouds.

Virga is what you can see ahead hanging from the bottom of the cloud layer which sat around FL260. Virga (not Viagra) is precipitation that falls from the cloud but evaporates before it gets to the ground. In the summer when associated with thunderstorms they are an area of pretty good turbulence because when the rain evaporates it absorbs the heat from the surrounding air which then cools the air causing it to become more dense and sink. But at temperatures of around -30 its already ice crystals and the turbulence associated today would be cause by the shear of the winds at altitude.

It looks like a bowl of Liquid Hot MAGMA but its just the sun behind a cloud deck. It gives a very interesting look and I was fortunate enough to get this angle for this shot. We are just about over the Maine/New Brunswick border and have about an hour and forty five to go.

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