Contrails over Sting & Peter Gabriel Concert in Lake Tahoe

Mick West

Staff member

On July 16th, 2016, Sting and Peter Gabriel played at the Harvey's Lake Tahoe outdoor arena. I was there, and as well as enjoying the concert I also saw some interesting and spectacular contrails, and took quite a few photos (with my iPhone). I also sat directly behind a chemtrail believer who seemed to be taking pretty much the same photos and video as me.

We got into our hotel room at the Hard Rock around 4PM, and there was already a quite interesting display in the sky. This is the view from the 14th floor, looking west. The Harvey's arena (a repurposed parking lot) is visible in the lower left. The stage faces southwest, and so the audience faces northeast.

Later (4:18) I saw what looked like a distrail, a rip in a cloud layer caused by the passage of a plane. There was also a very distinct corona around the sun.

At 7:16 there was a sundog visible. There also a grey linear cloud that looked somewhat like a plane induced fallstreak, or an old contrail of some type. I think this might have been the more spectacular cloud that shows up later.

As the sun set, and Sting and Peter Gabriel sang, one linear cloud stood out quite dramatically from the rest. The color gradually went from white to orange, and it drifted slowly across the sky, stretching back over out heads, almost horizon to horizon. Impossible to fit in one photo, so I took a video, and later stitched a panorama from four photos.



I'm not really sure if this was a contrail, a fallstreak cloud, a bit of both, or neither. But I suspect it was some kind of aviation induced cloud, due to the size and shape.

It got more and more orange (8:28).

Then I looked up, and saw a plane flying over, leaving a big contrail. It looked very low and large. I remembered that I was at 6,260 feet above sea level, so quite a bit closer to the planes (and clouds) than normal. This photo is at 8:30:05PM PDT, July 15th, so 3:30AM UTC, July 16th.


The contrail looked like it was aerodynamic, looking somewhat flat and ribbon-like, with a patchiness to it. Notice the uneven nature of the contrail in the area without cloud in the photo above.

The plane was a Swissair A340 (HB-JMI) from San Francisco to Zurich. It was at 27,875 feet, and nearly directly overhead. The altitude is consistent with an aerodynamic contrail.

The contrail took on the pink colors of sunset, and then quite rapidly faded to grey and white as the sun actually set for that altitude.

It got darker, and there were a few more contrails, but by this time my iPhone wasn't taking very good photos:

Earlier, this curly haired chap in front of me was taking pretty much the same photos as I was:

Contrail enthusiasts being a bit of an oddity, I asked him about this after the concert had ended. It seemed like he was a believer in the chemtrail conspiracy theory. "Don't tell me they're just contrails," he said, "they are spraying us!". I'm not sure how serious he was. I was going to give him my email address so we could compare notes, but unfortunately he was lost in the crowd.
How was the concert? Did Peter play "red rain" and point to the sky ? :)

The linear cloud almost has a lenticular quality to it- praps it was influenced by the Sierra...
How was the concert? Did Peter play "red rain" and point to the sky ? :)
It was great, but no :)

The linear cloud almost has a lenticular quality to it- praps it was influenced by the Sierra...
Lenticular clouds are stationary, this was moving along with the rest of the clouds, like it was in that layer of clouds. It mostly looked to me like a giant dense fallstreak.