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Dry Sunny Weather Making Contrails More Noticeable

Published On: Dec 30 2013 06:19:09 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 30 2013 06:32:17 PM CST

This year is officially the driest year on record in California history. With that, you may have noticed more "lines in the sky" this time of year called condensation trails or simply "contrails".

"Jets,” said Collin Leger. "Lines," said Sophie Leger.  Contrails can capture the imagination of a child. "Maybe they have people on them that are traveling," said Sophie. "For Christmas to celebrate or something," said Collin.

Scientifically they have a different definition. "What happens is if you have the warm hot exhaust coming out of these jet engines, they basically condensate and they produce these ice crystals and that's the type of clouds that you see," said John Lindsey, a local meteorologist.

Due to the sunny weather and few clouds in the sky you are going to see them even more. This year in San Luis Obispo just over 4 inches of rain have been recorded. Normally it should be at a little over 22 inches said Lindsey. "Without that rain the high level clouds have been more noticeable because they have been obscured by all the rain that we normally would have during this time of the year," said Lindsey.

With the jets flying high into zero degree temps the condensation becomes more noticeable and with low winds the contrails are staying a little longer in the sky. "One right there, one right there," said Collin pointing at the sky.  

"If you have strong upper level winds it will dissipate pretty quickly but with the storm track being so far north we've got these very calm winds above us and that's allowing those condensation trails to persist for a longer period of time," said Lindsey.



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