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On Saturday July 11th at 5: 30 PM, I walked out of a cafe on Grand Avenue near Lake Merritt in Oakland and noticed that sweet smell that comes after a light rain and a weird amber tint of the sidewalk below me, so I looked up and was surprised by an incredible site: a remarkable double rainbow that stretched overhead and to the left and right of me. It was such an amazing event that people came out of ZZA's and Sidebar restaurants just to take pictures of it; fortunately, I had my small Flip Video Camera.
Double rainbow in Oakland
There were two rainbows, one on top of the other in a perfect arch. It was such a site that people came out to their balconies to see it, and car traffic on Grand Avenue slowed because drivers were craining their necks to get a better look at it. What was remarkable was how robust the double rainbow was as I walked along, not dissolving into one rainbow. It's the first time I've ever seen a double rainbow, so I wondered what caused them to form. Off to Google.
To make it simple, because there are a lot of complicated explainations out there, a rainbow is formed when sunlight passes through raindrops at a certain angle. According to the Natonal Center for Atmostpheric Research, a double rainbow ">happens when sunlight is reflected twice within raindrops: the "primary rainbow" is formed in the "normal" way, but the "secondary" rainbow occurs after the double reflection in the raindrop itself (and explains why the outer rainbow's color order is reversed from that of the inner or primary rainbow). Given that information, can a triple rainbow form? Yes they can and do.
How rare is a double rainbow?
Double rainbows are said to be rare, but some explain that since rainbows are an optical illusion, it may be that we're not in the right position to see the secondary rainbow most of the time.
The meaning of a double rainbow
I wondered what does it mean - if anything - to see a double rainbow? Blogger and vocalist Luna Jade believes it means the viewer will be blessed. The Osho Energy Transformation Institute, that Jade links to, explains that "the double rainbow the symbol of transformation":
The double rainbow is the symbol of transformation.
In the first rainbow we see red is at the top and
violet at the bottom.
This represents the material world.
We are a rainbow, but the red belongs at the feet and
the first chakra area and the violet at the head.
So when we see the red at the top and the violet at
the bottom, it is as if we are seeing a person upside
down or descending from heaven diving down to the
earth. In the upper second rainbow,
and remember it is not such a common sight,
the colours are the right way up,
this symbolizes the journey back to heaven,
the ascent of the kundalini,
the journey of transformation, the spiritual world.
So a double rainbow over Oakland must mean something good's going to happen for a city that can use a few blessings, or at least for the Oaklanders who saw it today. With a massive budget problem, a persistent image as a dangerous city, and a double-digit unemployment rate, Oakland people overdue for great positive developments. The double rainbow's a great start - people who didn't know each other were talking on the street which is a rare happening in a Bay Area culture I think encourages anti-social behavior.