Mystery of the dark shadowy line pictured shooting from a cloud over Florida beach that has left weather experts stumped
3 August 2013 – By Daily Mail Reporter – Tampa Bay Times Story Link
The shadowy apparition was spotted and photographed by Mike Weight at Honeymoon Island State Park near Dunedin, Florida, Wednesday.
Weight was walking on the beach at around 12.30pm. The day was bright and sunny, but there were thunderheads forming to the east.
Unsolved: Mike Weight, 73, observed this odd dark line shooting down from a cloud at Honeymoon Island, Florida
Mysterious: Weight thought it was an optical illusion because he could see right through the line, which lingered for about a minute before fading
‘I was looking North when I observed what looked like a ray of dark light coming down from a small cloud to the surface of the Gulf about a half-mile away,’ the 73-year-old man wrote in an email to Tampa Bay Times, adding that the line lingered in the sky for about a minute before fading.
The Clearwater resident sent two pictures showing the mystery phenomenon to the paper, hoping to find out what it was.
‘At first I thought it was an optical illusion because it was like a dark piece of sky with a light sky background,’ Weight told the paper. ‘You could see through it.’
Since there has been a spike in water spout sightings in the area recently, Weight thought that what he was seeing might be a funnel cloud, but that seemed unlikely.
Theory: A meteorologist suggested that what Weight had observed was actually a shadow of a condensation trail left behind jet aircraft known as a contrail
Phenomenon: Contrails form when hot humid air from jet exhaust mixes with environmental air of low vapor pressure and low temperature
Mike Clay, chief meteorologist at the local station Bay News 9, was stumped by the unusual black line shooting down from a cloud.
The weatherman shared Weight’s pictures with some of his colleagues, one of whom came up with a possible explanation, suggesting that the dark line could be the shadow of a contrail.
Contrail is the condensation trail left behind jet aircraft. Contrails form when hot humid air from jet exhaust mixes with environmental air of low vapor pressure and low temperature.
For a contrail shadow to be seen, atmospheric conditions must be just right, with the sun hanging low on the horizon.