It’s a treat to see a rainbow painting the sky, and seeing a double rainbow always gets our attention, but how many of us have seen three bows at the same time?
The rainbow “trips” shown above were photographed near Kenmore, Washington (northeast of Seattle) in the late afternoon on November 24, 2012. Sandwiched between the two arching bows is the third bow – bent at a vertical angle. The bright primary bow (left most) and fainter secondary bow (right most) are a result of refraction and reflection of sunlight in raindrops – a second reflection within the drops creates the secondary bow.
However, the odd bow isn’t due to a third raindrop reflection but rather to reflection off nearby Lake Washington, southwest of the photographer’s location. Sunlight reflecting off the smooth water of the lake interacts with the falling raindrops to form the reflection rainbow. — Dara Korra’ti; Jim Foster