On October 11th, the evening before Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan, an unusual sunset painted the sky a vivid shade of purple.
The violet sky may have been simply stunning under different circumstances, but for people in the typhoon’s path, it was an omen of the devastation – including the loss of at least 40 lives – that would follow Japan’s worst storm since 1958.
Because of a phenomenon known as scattering, the purple shade appears when intense rain washes large molecules from the sky. The remaining small molecules and other particles in the atmosphere, cause rays of light to change direction, or scatter, in a way that creates the intense color.
People all over Japan stopped their storm preparations to take pictures of the sky and post on social media. Posters agreed the sky was gorgeous, even as they acknowledged what would soon bear down on their island country.
“The sky in Japan turned purple hours before the wrath of Super Typhoon Hagibis,” wrote one Twitter user. “A beautiful scene, indeed. But beneath it lies a big catastrophe.”
“Pray for Japan, everyone.”
All over Tokyo, supermarket shelves were picked clean, and the normally crowded streets were deserted as the storm charged through. But, as these images reveal, there was a spectacular pre-show.
Nature has a strange way of being fascinating even when we’re bracing for its wrath.