September 5, 2019 11:27 pm

Hurricane Dorian turns Florida sky purple as it passes state en route to Canada

WATCH: As hurricane Dorian veered north, Floridians received an unexpected sight on Wednesday when the sky turned purple, as a result of what's called "scattering" and is a common development after a hurricane.


Florida largely escaped the worst of hurricane Dorian after the storm laid waste to certain islands in the Bahamas and then carried on north toward North Carolina and, eventually, Atlantic Canada.

As the storm passed, however, residents of the sunshine state were treated to a spectacular purple sunset in cities such as Tampa and Jacksonville.

WATCH: How Canadians can help victims of hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas

Social media illuminated with photos of the purple sky on Thursday.

Jacksonville resident Amy Pope-Latham caught a shot of the phenomenon from her apartment.

“Do you think there’s a chance Dorian was a fan of Prince?” she asked in a tweet.

She later tweeted another photo with one of her favourite quotes: “Hope is like the sun. If you only believe in it when you can see it, you’ll never make it through the night.”

The sky’s colours resulted from an effect known as “scattering,” which sees molecules and small particles change light rays’ direction, according to Steven Ackerman, professor of meteorology at the University of Wisconsin — Madison.

This effect determines the colour of the sky at sunrise and sunset.

When the sun shines during the day, most colours on the spectrum can “reach the surface uninterrupted,” First Coast News meteorologist Lauren Rautenkranz explained last year, after Hurricane Michael hit Florida.

READ MORE: Preparations underway as Nova Scotians brace for impact of hurricane Dorian

However, shorter-wavelength colours like violet and blue are scattered by air molecules more than other colours.

“This is why blue and violet light reaches our eyes from all directions on a clear day,” Ackerman said.

“But because we can’t see violet very well, the sky appears blue.”

When hurricane Michael had passed Florida, the air was “super saturated” and there were “dew points in the mid- and upper-70s [degrees Fahrenheit],” Rautenkranz explained at the time.

“The sun was setting — so we were losing daylight — and the hurricane’s clouds surrounded us, hanging low to the ground.”

This affected how shorter-wavelength light like violet reached the human eye.

WATCH: Hurricane Dorian takes aim at the Carolinas

With Florida in its rear view, Dorian continues to track north, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm has triggered a hurricane watch in Nova Scotia and a tropical storm watch for Prince Edward Island, and in New Brunswick from Shediac to Fundy National Park.

As of Thursday night, Dorian was blowing with maximum winds of 155 km/h.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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