Wake County

Photographers chase Raleigh rainbows after storm

Following a line of thunderstorms that brought pea-sized hail as it moved through the Triangle on Thursday, April 30, 2015, a double rainbow appeared over downtown Raleigh, drawing crowds to the Boylan Street bridge to get a glimpse.
Following a line of thunderstorms that brought pea-sized hail as it moved through the Triangle on Thursday, April 30, 2015, a double rainbow appeared over downtown Raleigh, drawing crowds to the Boylan Street bridge to get a glimpse. jhansen@newsobserver.com

No filter necessary.

That was the message from photographers who went rainbow chasing Thursday evening after a burst of heavy rain.

A double rainbow that arced over downtown brought dozens of photographers to the Boylan Street bridge for the skyline scene that soon appeared on social media accounts across Raleigh.

Barrett Smith, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Raleigh, said rainbows – arches of color formed when water droplets in the air cause the diffraction of sunlight – are most common in the late afternoon and evening when the angle of the sun aligns to hit the droplets just right.

“With the right angle, that’s what allows you to see all of the colors,” Smith said.

A double rainbow is caused by a second reflection in the water droplets, which is why the colors of the second, higher rainbow will show up in reverse from the primary rainbow, he said.

Ashton Mae Smith, a project manager at Citrix, was waiting out the storm at her downtown office when she caught her first glimpse of the rainbow through a window.

“It was just good timing and a great rooftop view,” said Smith who took photographs to share.

In North Hills, the rain washed out a beach music concert, but the rainbow provided entertainment, said Bonner Gaylord, general manager at North Hills and a city councilman.

“It was certainly a beautiful aftermath,” Gaylord said.

Barr: 919-836-4952;

Twitter: @barrmsarah

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