About rainbows .

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About rainbows.....

Several years ago I drove through a rainbow. It was rather a shock, since I know that it's impossibe to do so.

I know you can't drive through a rainbow because when I was a kid I was determined to stand inside the end of a rainbow. I thought it would be the coolest thing. My parents humored me until my grandmother went shopping one day and saw me walking in the rain on the other side of town. Not only was I grounded for chasing rainbows, lol, my mom broke the bad news that it was impossible for me to find the end of the rainbow.
Well, what did she know? So I researched rainbows. Then I pouted. Then I apologized :)

So. I was driving to work a few years ago during a wicked spring storm. I live in the mountains, so as I drive to work, the road travels up through the mountains, levels on a plateau for a few miles, then climbs up into the mountains once more. I also work third shift, so it was late afternoon when this happened.

Anyhow, the storm was coming from the east and I was driving towards the east. I had reached the point where the sun was shining over the darkest storm-clouds, both of which were behind me. Since I was driving up, and it was about an hour from sunset, the sun at that particular time of day was 'level' with my location.

I could see a rainbow 'up ahead', which is common here after spring storms. I had reached a point where the road travels down a steep hill, curves to the left, and then s-curves up an even steeper incline and through a natural gap in the mountains. (After the crest of that hill/gap, the road goes down another hill and evens out on the plateau for several miles.)

So the sun and storm are behind me and the rainbow in front of me. Once I started driving up the s-curves towards the gap, it suddenly appeared as if the left side of the rainbow ended directly on the crest of the hill/gap.
I am cautious on this part of the road- once you crest the gap, there's a lovely view of the plateau. There's also no place to pull over, so I often encounter tourists stopped in the middle of the flipping road on the other side, trying to take pictures.

I slowed down even more.

Then I drove through it. Actually, I drove through the red/orange/yellow portion of it. I can't explain what it was like.... maybe swimming through dyed water would be a comparable experience. It lasted for maybe two car-lengths, then I was over the hill and it was gone. By the time I reached a place where I could turn around, another band of clouds had come through and there wasn't enough light left for rainbows.

The road had been recently re-paved with black asphalt and the sun was reflecting brightly off of the wet road in the s-curve area in front of me when I started driving down the first hill. My theory is that the combination of timing, angles, reflection, and whatnot is the reason it appeared as though I drove through the rainbow.

I stopped chasing rainbows years ago, lol. I wasn't on drugs, I wasn't driving drowsy, and truth-be-told, I've not told many people about the time I drove through the rainbow because, well... it's not possible.

I would really appreciate a rational explanation. I have an autistic daughter who, ironically enough, has developed a great desire to chase rainbows.

Thanks for your time!
 

Answers and Replies

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It is possible for a rainbow to look very close as you can see when you are watering the lawn and the sun is behind you. The angle just needs to be right.

Driving through a red/orange/yellow fog could just be a reflection of the light that has traveled through enough atmosphere to lose all of its higher frequency colors (Raleigh scattering). This often happens near sunset. In this case the angle would not be important, and you could see red coming from all the water droplets around you.
 

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