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Visual Effects

Pinatubo Dust Glow over South Florida

Pinatubo Dust Glow over South Florida

Early in the morning twilight, the eastern sky glowed with a peculiar copper tint, arching upward and outward from the future sunrise point in progressively darker hues, like an optical band shell. Light from the predawn sun was refracting through a stratospheric ash layer courtesy of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. The Filipino volcano had lofted enormous volumes of dust and ash skyward the year before -- a massive clastic spew not only dwarfing the output of the St. Helens eruption of 1980, its aerosol output exceeding any eruption since Krakatoa in 1883. Though the heavier ash and large dust particles mostly settled down across the Philippines and adjacent areas of the west-central Pacific within months, plumes of fine dust in the stratosphere circled the globe many times in the ensuing couple of years. The thickest and most spectacular were in tropical and subtropical latitudes; and one of those passed directly over South Florida on this morning.

Coral Gables FL (12 Nov 92), looking ESE

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