This Is What 'Instability' Looks Like

Kansas Viewpoint

Kansans are used to scary skies in the spring, but this time of year is a bit freaky

Published on: September 19, 2011
From April to June, Kansans get used to terms to like "Mammatus" and "Cumulus" and "Towering Cumulus."

And we tend to forget that the change of season between summer and fall can sometimes be as turbulent as that between spring and summer.

Not usually -- as documented by the prime tornado season of April to June -- but frequently enough to remind us that we live under an unstable atmosphere.

At about dusk, with a tornado watch in effect and warning boxes lighting up the weather map to the southwest, I noticed the peculiar, beautiful, yellow light that is a trademark of storm approach in Kansas.

I raced outside and shot this photo, a documentation of the instability of the atmosphere above Wichita tonight.