I’ve heard of storm chasers and tornado chasers but never rainbow chasers; I wonder why, I mean given the destructive powers and inevitable carnage storms and tornados cause, I think chasing a rainbow would be far more rewarding, certainly more colourful and infinitely less dangerous.
There is an average of 1,500 tornadoes/year with the UK encountering around 30 annually
Of course I am biased, because like the storm chasers, I love my quarry and without fail, when the rainfall combines with the sunshine, I always rush from window to window looking for Mother Nature’s multi-coloured extravaganza; I marvel at its shape, the perfect arc; the defined colours that merge into one another, sometimes sharp but more often softly fused; I always hope it will be a wall-to-wall spectrum but am equally enthralled by a minor arc when there is little more than a colourful dash in the sky; and if there is a double rainbow, well that’s sensational.
Refracted light reflects off the raindrop a second time to produce a secondary rainbow
Perhaps it’s the beautiful colours, or maybe the idea that the sun goddess is giving the rain god a run for his money, or maybe it’s the magic that even now, I still believe can be found at the end of the rainbow.
There can be few adults in my peer group who are not familiar with the story of the leprechaun and his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Then of course there was Judy Garland when she went ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ and to round it off, the first story I wrote under my series of children’s books The Adventures of Charlie and The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow http://www.theadventuresofcharlie.co.uk/
Yes, that striped spectrum has always held a special place in my heart and dreams, but I have always failed in my mission to reach the end because as we all know, a rainbow moves; indeed like the oasis to the man lost in the desert, it is something of a mirage; there but not really there.
That was until today when I finally got round to visiting an aged aunt who in the past has joked about the next time I was likely to see her would be another (most likely her) funeral.
When I left her home town of Bideford in north Devon, the sun was shining and it still felt like summer, but as I headed south-east the sky darkened and approaching traffic had their headlights on, so I was obviously heading into the rain. But it wasn’t too heavy and it obviously was the perfect condition to create the biggest rainbow I have ever seen.
The sun must be behind you and the rain ahead; the sunlight separates into wavelengths and each wavelength corresponds with a colour
It wasn’t just wall-to-wall, each band was extra big, extra fat, it looked like it had been pumped up to an enormous size.
It was impossible to miss; there it was in front of me. It was also impossible (for me) not to marvel at the spectacle and that’s when it happened.
I not only reached the end of the rainbow, I went through it.
One minute it was there in front of me then suddenly I was in it. For a brief 5 seconds or so, I was at the end of the rainbow.
I have no idea how science can explain this, the raindrops must have been just the right size, the sun beams at the right angle and my car journey perfectly timed.
It would have been sheer folly to stop and dig for the pot of gold, given I was on the M5 travelling at around 60mph, but do you know, at that very moment I realised I have had my gold all along, and when my aged aunt and I later agreed it had been a truly wonderful day and that it mustn’t be another 5+ years before we did it again, I realised I’ve just been digging too deep and looking too hard for too long.
Have you ever chased a rainbow?
Interesting post on formation of rainbows: http://uk.weather.com/story/news/solved-mystery-double-rainbows-20140602