Roger's SkyPix

Visual Effects

Mirages on a Western Road

Mirages on a Western Road

A series of narrow white highway mirages cross a marvelously desolate country two-lane near the California-Nevada state line. Just two days earlier, a small but potent snowstorm had blanketed the White Mountains (ahead in the view), the Sierra Nevada behind me, and the Long Valley Caldera between, with a good coating of fresh powder. Apparently, this road was plowed the previous day and almost had evaporated completely by the time I drove its remote reaches. Patches of real ice linger on the road in the middle between the nearest and next nearest of the white bands, which are inferior mirages and not real snow. Inferior mirages happen when a surface heats far more quickly then the air just above and become sless dense, acting as a refracting lens to bend light from higher elevations back toward the observer. This isn't difficult with sunlit asphalt on a bitterly cold day. This series of mirages redirect distorted images of the snowy mountains back to the eye (and the lens!).

9 E Mammoth Lakes CA (20 Jan 6), looking NE