Mount Shasta, California
The scale of this cloud is impressive. Grass and Meiss Lakes are feeding moisture to this growing beast and are more than twenty miles (32 k) northeast of the summit. The mountain itself stands 14,179 feet ( 4,321 m ) above sea level - and over 10,000 ft above its base. Standing here - I could actually see the cloud growing skyward. The light through the cloud was breathtaking.
This image was taken from south of the mountain. These lakes to the north are large, shallow bodies of water. As the prevailing westerly winds drive warm air up the west face of the mountain, the air cools rapidly. Since hot air rises and cool air descends - as soon as the air passes to the leeward side of the peak - it pushes rapidly down the mountain and out onto these lakes.
The lakes - being shallow - warm rapidly under the sun and water begins to evaporate. Thus the stage is set. As the cold windy air off the mountain hits this water - these large cumulus clouds billowing skyward become a fairly common sight on hot days.
Mount Shasta is one of many active volcanoes in the western Untied States and it has a history of erupting every 400 to 800 years. This is as close to an eruption as I'd like to see, thank you.
© copyright 2018 by Stephen Phillips Photography / Oakland, California / www.JoyOfLight.com
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