Clouds fill Grand Canyon in rare weather event

A spectacular once-in-a-decade weather event has occurred at the Grand Canyon twice in three days.

Stunning photographs of a rare Grand Canyon cloud inversion have been published online by the US National Parks Service after the weather event occurred on Friday and again on Sunday.

The Grand Canyon National Park published the stunning pictures on its Facebook page saying park rangers had waited years for the rare weather phenomenon which filled the entire canyon with cloud.

Ranger Erin Whittaker told London's The Daily Mail that temperature inversions happened on average once or twice a year, but never to such an extent.

An inversion occurs when cold air is trapped near the surface of the earth by warmer air above. Humidity in the cooler air creates fog.

Most only fill up parts of the canyon or happen on cloudy days, Whittaker said.

Friday's first inversion was on a clear day and enveloped the entire canyon - an event Whittaker said happened about every 10 years. But then it happened again on Sunday.

"The canyon gave us a second rare inversion in three days," Whittaker posted on Facebook. "Freezing fog dominated yesterday ... by the end of the day the sun was able to burn it all away no doubt making many first time visitors very happy."

The Facebook post accompanying the photographs said: "Rangers wait for years to see it. Word spread like wildfire and most ran to the rim to photograph it. What a fantastic treat for all!"

with Fairfax NZ