Vanessa Lynn-Byerly never gets tired of visiting Yellowstone National Park, regardless of the season, and felt especially lucky to capture rare and beautiful footage of “diamond dust” during the latest cold snap.
“It needs to be very cold to see diamond dust. When I took this video, I believe it was 15 degrees below zero,” said Lynn-Byerly of West Yellowstone, Montana.
Lynn-Byerly and her husband explore Yellowstone as frequently as they can. At one time, her husband guided snowmobile tours there.
During the latest deep freeze, she was out on a snowmobile tour of the park. The route took her past the Upper Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
The frigid temperature, almost no wind and sunshine had created just the right conditions, and Lynn-Byerly was thrilled to see diamond dust sparkling through the air.
She began shooting video, which she later shared on social media, much to the delight of her followers.
“I have seen diamond dust in Yellowstone and also in Grand Teton National Park,” she said. “However, this is the first time where the lighting was just right so I was able to record a video where it is visible.”
Beautiful Side Effect Of Extreme Cold
Diamond dust is a stunning side effect of extremely cold, calm conditions, said Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day of Cheyenne.
“In bitter cold environments — usually well below zero, let’s says minus 30 or colder — the water vapor in the air freezes and very small water crystals are the result, this makes the dust. In polar regions the dust can last for days and can lay down a ‘diamond dust’ layer,” he said.
It's rare in Wyoming, but along the Yellowstone River during a cold snap is a good place to look for it, Day added.
“It probably happens every winter to some extent up there (in Yellowstone), but is more common when we have these Arctic outbreaks, the large basins and valleys in northwest Wyoming make for suitable conditions for very cold nights and mornings,” he said.
Temperatures are warming back up, but Wyomingites could get more chances to see diamond dust this winter, Day added. The Cowboy State is probably due for at least one more dose of Arctic air.
“Usually they (Arctic air breakouts) happen in January and February. The pattern we’re seeing probably lends itself to another one in February,” he said.
Will Keep Going Back
Lynn-Byerly said that she and her husband plan to keep visiting Yellowstone, so there’s a chance she’ll get to see diamond dust again before spring.
“He and I both love nature and wildlife photography, though it is not our profession,” she said. “We will continue to visit Yellowstone regularly, because it is a very special place to us.”
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.