Winter sunrises

Is it possible that winter sunrises are just more dramatic than any other season?

Certainly one of you out there knows the science of this, and I welcome your insights. (For realz, please tell me what you know about this.) But I swear, the sunrises this late fall and early winter have been outrageously beautiful, and since I see a lot of them while I’m running (i.e. when I have lots of time to spin my thoughts), I think a lot about why they’re so lovely.


(ironically, I have zero pictures of said beautiful sunrises, because I never have my camera when I’m running from home. This is just a dramatic later morning from a solstice ride)


Let’s back up. It’s dark when I get to Mt Tabor, but by the time I’ve run for a bit, maybe around the bottom reservoir if it’s particularly dark (that reservoir has lights around it;) — by maybe 10 or so minutes in, I can start to see a deep red glow around the eastern horizon.

As the world gets lighter, the deep red that has been hugging tight to the horizon sort of spreads out, transforms ever so subtly into an all-encompassing pink sky — not just the thin slice of horizon with color anymore but the whole sky lightening to cotton candy. Often, there is fog or a cloudy layer slinking in the low spots, so the world starts to look brilliantly white below, and stunningly pink above. Sometimes the clouds have wild textures that make them even more amazing.

The sun comes up much south of Mt Hood these days, so as the sky turns all manner of reds, pinks, golds, the mountain looks stunningly white against it (rather than sort of washed out by the sun behind it). Often she’s wearing a little lenticular cloud hat. With the deciduous trees bare these days, I can also see Mt St Helens from a few more secret spots too — she rarely has a cloud hat, but also looks brilliantly white.

But even without the shiny white mountains, I swear the sky is so much more colorful and brilliant than it was in the summer. (At least, on the days where the sun actually perceptibly rises — I’m not talking about the rain-rainy days where the world just gets slightly less grey over time;)


(slightly post-sunrise, on winter solstice, but also from a bike ride;)


I have some theories. Again, someone with more knowledge please help me out here:)

First, an anti-theory. Winter sunrises are NOT more beautiful because I actually see them because they happen later. I’ve consistently timed my runs this year to start in the dark before the sun rose (except for a few weeks right around summer solstice when I drew the line and refused to get up before 4:50am), so I’m pretty sure I’m seeing the same swath of daylight.

Theory two. Winter sunrises are more beautiful because of something about the different composition of the air and clouds in winter. (What causes colors in the sky? Would drier or more moist or colder or whatever air make them look different?)

Three. Winter sunrises are more beautiful because of the angle of the sun somehow (does the fact that it comes up so slanty/south in the horizon change something?)

Four. Winter sunrises are more beautiful because since the sun is up for a shorter amount of time, the sunrise is compressed into less time, which somehow makes it prettier. ha! This one feels ridiculous, but I’ll still put it up here cuz maybe it’ll prompt a better thought in one of you.

Five. Winter sunrises are more beautiful because they are a rare splash of color in an otherwise grey world. (There may be something to this;)

Six. Winter sunrises aren’t more beautiful at all; I just don’t remember how beautiful the sunrises were all summer anymore.

Any thoughts? :)

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