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The Changing View From Mount Apgar

It occurs to me that while I’ve shared many winter views from Mount Apgar in Glacier National Park, I haven’t shared many summer views. Since this is my favorite view in Montana, it is time to change that.

Each of the pictures in this set are of the exact same angle, from the exact same place, from the same US Park Service webcam. The differences from one picture to the next are often subtle, but they are definitely there. The background mountains and even Lake McDonald don’t look quite the same in any two pictures. 

Other people might not feel the same way, but I’m fascinated by those little changes.

On July 3

This image was on July 3, 2019. Not surprisingly, considering that there are raindrops on the lens, it was raining at Glacier National Park. The clouds over the distant mountains are so thick that the mountains can't be seen. There is a great deal of gold near the lake from aspens and larches, though the temperatures didn't start getting hot yet and the nights haven't been crisp enough for the leaves to change color.

This is actually an illusion. The trees are the same color as those in the foreground, but sunlight is shining through the clouds and directly onto that swath of trees, making them appear yellowish-green because of contrast and lighting.

July 8

I find this image interesting and fetching. On July 8, there was an atmospheric high-pressure ridge over the top of the area, forcing the clouds downward, except for where they are coming over the top of the Rocky Mountains. The camera is actually above most of the clouds.

If you compare this picture with the last one, you'll also see that the swath of golden forest is gone. Since the amount of sunlight is the same everywhere, except where the clouds cast shadows, the forest looks the same color everywhere.

July 13

On July 13, the view was overcast. This is in the morning, yet the view is shadowed by the clouds. It gives an interesting contrast to the mountains, though. It might be noted that when this was taken, the humidity was also quite high; 97%. The temperature was 59F, so a little later in the day, the humidity could be figured to drop a little, but this is extremely high humidity for Montana in mid-July.

July 18

Five days later, on July 18, the clouds were even heavier and threatening rain. In fact, it did rain later in the day. This is also a morning picture and the temperature was higher, but the humidity was still high, at 92%. The sun is breaking through in this picture, so part of the forest looks light green rather than dark green.

July 27

On July 27, the hot part of the year had finally arrived. This shot is only about an hour after sunrise and it shows a great deal of smoky haze. Although there haven't been any major fires in Montana this year, there are still a few that were burning when this was taken. My guess would be that this smoke was blown in from the 4,000+ acre fire near Missoula, though Missoula isn't very close to Glacier.

The temperature in this image is already in the mid-60s at a little before 9 am, so the day was shaping up to be well over 80 before the day was through. As usual in Montana, that means that the humidity was lower. In this case, it was at 48% and would be dropping as the day got hotter.

August 8

This morning's picture shows more of the smoke, partly obscuring some of the mountains and giving a reddish hue to the horizon. The temperature isn't much different than in the last picture, but the humidity is lower, at 38%. 

This picture was taken a little after 7 am, so the sun is still rising and hasn't yet fully cleared the mountains to the east. Much of the image is still in shadow because of this. The forecast for the day is for high temperatures in the mid-90s, so the humidity will probably drop to around 18%. As the day progresses, the smoke will most likely also move into the valley and over Lake McDonald.

Though I'm not including the picture, I just looked at what it looks like now and the smoke has already begun to move in. The temperature is already at 68, too, so temperatures of 96 or 97 are not only possible today, they are likely.

It is thankful that there aren't many fires this year. In 2017, there were so many fires and the smoke was so dense that it was even difficult to see the trees in the foreground.

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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7 Comments

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    • That is one of the things I love about Glacier National Park, in general. It never looks the same on any two days. In fact, it can look quite different depending on the time of day. This is just a view that takes in a large area, so the changes are a little easier to see.

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