|Above, a view of El Capitan from Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
This week, the conditions at Yosemite National Park have been ideal for the annual "firefall" illusion to awe park visitors.
According to The Smithsonian:
This week, weather conditions at Yosemite were perfect for the annual “firefall”—when the sun strikes the park’s infamous Horsetail Falls at just such an angle to make it look as though the cascading water is on fire.
Yosemite National Park is home to innumerable waterfalls, the longest of which is Yosemite Falls. Horsetail Falls, however, is one of the park’s greatest winter attractions. During mid-to-late February, if conditions are just right, the firefall appears. But, as author and photographer James Kaiser writes on his website, it’s a tricky combination to achieve.
First, the waterfall isn’t always flowing in February; like most of Yosemite’s waterfalls, it’s fed by snowmelt. If there isn’t enough snow on the mountain, or if the weather doesn’t grow warm enough to melt the snow pack, Horsetail Falls will be dry, notes Kaiser, who wrote the book Yosemite: The Complete Guide.
The weather also plays an important role. If the sun’s rays can’t penetrate cloud cover to reflect off Horsetail Falls, then nothing will happen. It must be a relatively cloud-free evening for the firefall effect to be visible.
Horsetail Falls is located on El Capitan.
Unfortunately, I haven't been to Yosemite during the time when the "firefall" appears, so I can't share any photographs of it. But, to read more, see a video and photographs of it, go here.