July in the valley usually means blue skies and very warm temperatures. This year, abundant storms in the Sierra have brought an unusual amount of clouds providing spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
The clouds we saw Wednesday evening as the sun was setting produced beautiful Crepuscular rays. These are rays that appear to shoot out from the clouds where the sun is located. The rays seem to stream out from a convergence point, but that is an optical illusion. They are actually near-parallel shafts of sunlight.
Crepuscular rays are especially common in stratocumulus clouds, streaming through the darker cloud-shadowed regions. The rays can be seen at both sunrise and sunset. In fact, Crepuscular means twilight in Latin.