The arrival of spring also marks the peak of the North Sound’s rainbow season. Rainbows can occur any time of year, but the combination of spring showers and a higher sun angle than winter creates a greater number of rainbows during this season.

Rainbows are created by sunlight and rainfall from clouds or water droplets hanging in the air after a rainfall. The sunlight enters a water droplet, slowing and bending the light as it goes from air to denser water. The light reflects off the inside of each rain droplet, breaking it into its different component wavelengths – or colors. When the light then exits the rain droplets, it creates a rainbow. This process is similar when sunlight goes through a prism.

Sunlight is composed of a spectrum of colors – many wavelengths of light. Violet is the shortest wavelength of visible light and bends the most. Red has the longest wavelength and bends the least. So when you see a rainbow, the light reflecting back to you with the sun at your back will show all the colors between violet and red with violet on the bottom and red on the top.

On occasion, you may see a double rainbow with the second one fainter than the other. The primary rainbow is caused from one reflection inside the water droplets. The secondary rainbow is the result of a second reflection inside the droplets and exits the droplets at a little different angle than the primary rainbow, appearing above the primary rainbow – very cool!

Spring is here and it’s rainbow season!  Rainbows are among the most beautiful displays of nature. If you see one (or two), take pictures and share them on the Facebook site so everyone can enjoy them.

North Sound Meteorologist Ted Buehner worked more than 40 years for the National Weather Service (NWS) from 1977 to 2018. He is now an Everett Post Media team member. Together with Everett Post Weather Minute Podcasts, he provides morning and afternoon commute traffic and weather updates on both KRKO and KXA Radio, and sports reporting on KRKO.