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What Makes The Clouds Yellow or Orange

10:30 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- We often see the sky light up with beautiful oranges and yellows as the sun sets over the Triad, but have you ever wondered what gives the sky and the clouds that vibrant color?

WFMY News 2 Meteorologist Grant Gilmore answered this question that came from News 2 viewer Joy Branning. She asked, "What caused the sky Sunday night to look so yellow with the dark clouds behind it?"

Clouds always reflect the light that is shining onto them. Sunlight consists of all the colors in the visible light spectrum which when all combined is white. This is why clouds typically appear to be white. 

As the sun sets the sun's light travels through a greater portion of the earth's atmosphere before it reaches our eyes. This increased distance causes the sun's light to encounter many more particles that are suspended in the air. These particles cause the sun's light to scatter, which basically takes out certain colors from the visible light spectrum. The colors that are scattered out of the light depend on what type of particles are suspended in the air.

In most cases the reds, oranges and yellows remain in the evening sun light after all other colors have been scattered out. This leaves the clouds to reflect these remaining colors.

The attached video demonstrates this process and continues to explain why there are often darker clouds behind these bright colorful clouds.

WFMY News 2

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