Thursday, June 25, 2009

Culture: What's So Great About a Rainbow?

A rainbow appeared over Speedy Auto Service on Dundas Street West in Toronto, Ontario on 25-June-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - My outdoor activities were curtailed twice today by thunderstorms. A squall passed through right about lunch time that in many places would have been strong enough to create flash flooding. Here, it just created a lot of puddles and mud. Later in the day, another line of thunderstorms passed through, this time with the added impact of leaving a rainbow behind.

I think some people lose sight of the fact that in order for a rainbow to be seen (and seen is the right verb, since a rainbow doesn't actually physically exist in any given location) that there has to be something (usually rain droplets) to refract the light and form a the visually-apparent spectrum. In other words, there has to be rain, and hence the name "rainbow."

It is only a romantic notion that the appearance of the rainbow means that the storm is over--though this certainly is a possible scenario. That is usually true in the northern hemisphere in the afternoon when a weather system is moving west to east, with a rainbow seen to the east. The same conditions in the morning, forming a rainbow in the west, mean that the storm front is headed in one's direction.

A much prettier scene was found as a rainbow formed about Lake Zurich near Uznach, Switzerland on 20-May-2006

Personally, I'd rather not have the rain and miss the rainbow--and to me, the fact that people tend to fawn over rainbows indicates their preference for appearance over practicality.

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