CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Whether or not you know the term, it's a good bet you've probably seen these before. They are the pretty rays of sunlight that sometimes stream through breaks in the clouds and can make for a beautiful picture if you catch a glimpse of them just right! In fact, they were clearly visible on our Tower Cam shot over Uptown Charlotte at times this morning.
Did you know there is actually a meteorology term for these rays of sun light? They're called Crepuscular Rays (pronounced "kr?'p?sky?l?r").
The word crepuscular actually means of, resembling, or relating to twilight, so Crepuscular Rays literally means "twilight rays." This is simply because they most commonly occur during twilight (dawn or dusk) but in fact they can occur at any time during the day, like this morning.
They are created when alternating dark and light bands (the dark bands are due to shadows from clouds, and light bands from scattered sunbeams) seem to diverge in a fan-like pattern from the sun's position. Sunbeams seen during the day are sometimes called crepuscular rays, even though they are observed outside twilight.
Next time you catch a glimpse of these rays, don't forget to snap a photo and send it to the WBTV weather team!