Desert Double Rainbow – Chihuahuan Desert, New Mexico

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Desert double rainbow and golden sky are the result of a summer monsoon over Albuquerque’s Sandia Mountains.

At the time I was taking this photograph, I had not yet learned the weather patterns of the Chihuahuan Desert. Actually, I hadn’t learned much about Albuquerque at all. All I knew was that a storm was brewing, and bad weather is the time for good photographs. Albuquerque turned out to prove this mantra even more than usual. As I was racing to find a location, a famed New Mexico summer monsoon outpaced me overhead. Most of the precipitation did not even reach the ground, but rather evaporated in middair — a phenomenon known as virga. As sunset neared, the sunlight reached just the right angle to be filtered by the virga, creating a bright desert double rainbow while simultaneously lighting up the clouds and the dramatic Sandia Mountains bright gold. It was one of the most stunning light displays I’ve ever seen.

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