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Sunday Story: A double treat of Sunsets and Jet Contrails!

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What a nice day we have in store for us! Make sure you enjoy this beautiful weather today.

The good news is that our next big storm system has slowed to the point that it looks like we have a nice Veteran’s Day in store for us, too! The winds may be picking up, but I think the daylight hours of Monday will stay dry. That bodes well with all the Veteran’s Day activities planned, esp those planned in the morning.

Then, as darkness falls, clouds will thicken and raindrops will start falling. Our next storm system will bring rain showers until about midnight Monday. Then, the raindrops will turn to snow flakes. Snow showers should continue right on into Tuesday morning. I wouldn’t be surprised to see flurries through the afternoon. Total snow accumulation could reach as much as one inch, esp on grassy areas.

Tuesday will be the coldest day we’ve seen in some time. North winds of up to 20 mph, along with highs generally in the 20s, will make you think it’s the middle of January instead of the middle of November. Be ready to bundle up!

On Tuesday night the temps take an even bigger plunge. After barely getting to 30 degrees for a high on Tuesday (if we even do that), we’ll see temps drop into the low to mid teens by Wednesday morning, with clearing skies.

We should finally warm back up to the 40s by Thursday.

And now…..your Sunday Story!

As you may have noticed, last week’s Sunday Story didn’t publish. I was at the rocket launch and forgot to share the week’s Sunday Story. Therefore, today you get two!!! What a treat, right?

I hope you enjoy!


One of the best things about autumn is the sunsets. There’s just something special about the day ending with a spectacular explosion of color on that western horizon. 

One of the things that make for brilliant sunsets is some type of particulate in the air that scatters the sun’s light in such a way to create colors. 

Small water vapor droplets are often the best at making good sunsets. The small water droplets scatter the sun’s light in such a way that reds and oranges dominate. These are the sunsets that nearly make your jaw drop with awe. 

The scattering of the light is called Rayleigh scattering. That same principle is why the sky so often looks blue. In the daytime, the sun is higher in the sky and beaming straight down. This allows the sun’s waves to travel shorter distances through the atmosphere. This is shortwave radiation and it favors the scattering of blue light. 

As the sun sinks lower in the sky, the wavelengths of light from the sun gets longer and pass through more of the Earth’s atmosphere. This causes the particulates in the atmosphere to scatter the setting sun’s light in many directions, causing us to see different colors of light.  

Weather lore states that a red sky at night is a sailor’s delight. There is often truth in this saying, in that the evening sun’s colorful display is likely resulting from the sun’s light scattering off water vapor that is moving away from the area, likely setting the stage for a nice day ahead. 

Take a moment to enjoy the sunset. “Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting,” Richard Paul Evans.


Many of us are familiar with cumulus, cirrus, and stratus clouds but there is another type of cloud that is the result of aircraft in our skies.

Contrails form as the result of hot and humid air from a jet’s exhaust mixing with the air around it. This is similar to the process that creates the cloud you see when you exhale in cold air. As long as the humidity is high enough to support the clouds in the contrail, the contrails will remain in the sky.

The Cumberland Plateau is in a geographic position that causes us to be frequented by contrails, as we lie beneath major airline flight paths that connect major US cities. 

Contrails certainly make for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but they also have other impacts. They can affect our temperature by blocking sunlight, especially if the sky becomes crowded with them. At night, they can keep us warmer by preventing all of the Earth’s heat from escaping to space at night. 

Contrails can give us clues about moisture content in the atmosphere. If they disappear as suddenly as they are produced, we know the air in the highest altitudes is dry. The longer they remain, the more moist we know those upper levels are. Moisture often increases in the upper-levels of the atmosphere ahead of a storm system. Therefore, one can observe contrails for clues of an incoming storm system. 

A social media follower of mine from New Hampshire once remarked at how odd a sky with contrails must be. Planes don’t fly over that state as often, leaving their skies void of contrails.  

So, the next time you notice several contrails in the sky keep in mind that they may be signaling the coming of our next storm system.

Please note: I received this response from a reader of my story on contrails in the Fentress Courier. I’ll share that comment, as well as my response, below. I’ll exclude their name.

“Read your article in the Fentress Courier, Wed, Nov 6, on what you call “Contrails”. What a load of political bs…How does it feel to be a government shill? I guess that’s your job, unless you truly believe what you wrote, and then it just makes you incredibly ignorant. What you are describing in the article are CHEMtrails. As in C-H-E-M-I-C-A-L trails, loaded with all kinds of goodies like boron and aluminum and other things that cause respiratory distress or even blood clots. But, as well all know, quoting from Stalin, repeat lies often enough and they become the truth. You know they will kill you too, don’t think lies make you immune.”   (NOTE: Stalin didn’t say that. Hitler first referred to this principle in Mein Kampf, though Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany, is most noted for the saying.)

My response.

“I’m so sorry you feel this way, and I’m sorry you believe the chem trail ideas. I don’t repeat lies…I repeat science. As for being a “government shill”… I had to chuckle at that one. I suppose scientists have been called worse. Next time you breathe into cold air and your breath makes a fog, don’t get paranoid. It’s not the government. Just like the planes, it’s just your hot exhaust mixing with cold air. Nothing more. Have a good day and God bless ya.”


2 thoughts on “Sunday Story: A double treat of Sunsets and Jet Contrails!

  1. Mark,
    I have been so disturbed by the response you shared to your “jet contrails” article. I have read your article a couple times, looked up the meaning of “contrails” and reread the reader response. Where did the response come from? Is this how people get ugly and messed up?
    I am a great fan of you and your family, I encourage you through prayer and look forward to your posts. I find your articles interesting, science based and apolitical. Keep up the good work! Hope you hear soon about your latest space adventure! Sincerely, Connie Rascoe

  2. Thank you so much for the kind words, Connie. I really do appreciate that. As for the chemtrail conspiracy, I don’t really know what to say. It’s just so ridiculous. The conspiracy stems from back in the day when we tried weather modification techniques. Those failed and ended pretty quickly. However, from that came the notion that the government sprays us with chemicals from the contrails of planes. People will come up with anything to get all twisted out of shape about, Connie. All the rest of us sane folk can do is just keep pushing forward and hope those folks get some God-given sense someday. ha Thank you for the prayers. Some days I really, really need them! ha

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