September 29 & 30, 2016
The end of September seems late for rain which sometimes brings inversion at Grand Canyon. Been gone or off work for the few fabulous cloud events this summer. Plus working hours in the Visitor Center keeps me off the rim. Not complaining mind you, helping visitors is part of the job.
I’ll bet it was pea soup earlier in the day.
As I drove to work at noon the rain changed from gentle to down pour. The Visitor Center was packed with people trying to stay dry. Then a fire alarm went off in the lodge and more people crammed into the tiny Visitor Center building. The acoustics are awful so it’s difficult to hear and focus on visitor questions. The most common questions about the weather. How do I know when it will quit raining. I direct people to the posted extended forecast by NOAA, explain that I don’t predict weather and ask if they have any other questions. Have patience folks, the clouds will drift in and out for the Greatest show on Earth.
What causes the inversion? Cool overnight temperatures causes clouds to settle in the canyon while a warm air layer above holds the clouds down. Then when the daytime temperatures increase in the canyon that air rises and swirls the clouds around. Makes for a most magical dance and little window peaks into the canyon. But not what the average day visitor wants to see.
Then it happened the next day too. When I arrived to the Lodge at 11am visitors were disappointed because they couldn’t see the canyon for the clouds. I did my usual cheerleader thing standing by the big windows in the Lodge Sunroom and encouraging the couch potato people to stand up and look at this marvel of inversion at Grand Canyon. The clouds swirled and moved quickly in and out providing the most spectacular show. Almost everybody in the world has at least seen a photograph of Grand Canyon under Arizona blue skies. But inversion is a rare enough occurrence so most short term visitors never experience. Of course it’s one of my favorite views because it’s unique.