Late yesterday afternoon, in a dry slot between the showers and the cold front, many of us were treated to something that always stops me in my tracks… a rainbow! Between 3pm and 5pm, the photos kept coming one …after the other.  The outgoing clouds were heavy with moisture and that made them nice and dark, allowing for the spectrum of colours to appear exceptionally vibrant.  ROYGBIV or red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet were spectacular!

If that wasn’t impressive enough, I started to get photos of the far less common double rainbow. Have you ever noticed that the order of colours on a double rainbow is reversed?  Lorraine did:

"Lorraine Folkes: Love the double rainbow pics today. Could you explain why the colours of the main rainbow are ROYGBIV and the second VIBGYOR?"

When a double rainbow forms, it’s always outside the primary rainbow. The colours in this rainbow are in the reverse order, with violet on the outside and red on the inside.  Why? Because the rays of light have undergone one more reflection on the internal surfaces of the raindrops and are reversed,  much like how the left becomes right and right becomes left in a mirror.  This extra reflection causes a reduction in intensity of the light and that’s why the second rainbow is always dimmer than the primary bow.

In some cultures, a double rainbow is considered a symbol of transformation and a sign of good fortune. The first arc represents the material world and the second arc symbolized the spiritual realm.  It's especially magical when you think that no two people see the same rainbow!  Each individual sees the rainbow from his or her particular vantage point.  A rainbow is light coming from a certain direction; since the drops reflecting the light are falling, a new rainbow is formed with every new set of raindrops.

The next time you get caught in the rain and the sun is shining at the same time, turn your back to the sun and looks straight ahead….that’s where you’ll find the rainbow! As far as locating the elusive pot of gold, you’re on your own!

 

Chief Meteorologist

Cindy Day