The Sunrises of Winter City Edmonton

When one spends a quarter of their adult life behind a window pane, even unobstructed views of nature are sometimes seen as just another wall of the office cubicle, especially in winter. Fortunately in Edmonton, our long winter nights, coupled with a low solar angle, means that city dwellers have the opportunity to view long colourful sunrises on the commute to work and school.

Having a perch with a million dollar view and starting work before rush hour, I’ve had the privilege to enjoy nature’s daily light show every morning. At times the sun never peeks through as the night transitions to day, while at other times the phenomenon is so gorgeous that pictures are not able to fully capture its essence.

Catching so many sunrises, I’ve come to know whether there will be a good sunrise simply by seeing the right mix of clouds in the sky. No clouds means a quick and boring sunrise. An overcast sky gives no sunrise, although occasionally there’s a pleasant surprise. A good coverage of clouds tells me to have my camera ready for what’s to come. The best of sunrises are when the sky is covered solid with clouds, leaving the horizon fully clear. As the break of dawn approaches, the spectrum of light bends through the atmosphere to make the clouds glow in deep violets, fiery reds, warm oranges, and piercing yellows. Most of the colour spectacle happens about 10 minutes before the sun actually shows up on the horizon. If the horizon is clear, he beaming light announces the day has finally arrived.

Sunrises also have a personality of their own, at times haunting in how they reflect the mood of the community and events happening. Here are some of the awe-inspiring sunrises which made a memorable impact in River City, as seen behind the window frame of an office cubicle.

Long Winter Nights

The long winter nights mean that every Edmontonian has had the opportunity to wake up before the sun and see the transition from night to day in the most spectacular way. In these photos, I captured the glowing rush hour below as the sun inched up the horizon.

Shortest Day of The Year

While Edmonton has certainly celebrated its winters and lit up the nights in recent years, the morning after the winter solstice is always a time to rejoice as it looks forward to our extremely long summer days, 17 hours!

Picture Perfect Scenes

The unspoiled landscape of Southeast Edmonton with the high riverbanks along Edmonton downtown gives picture perfect scenes of the River Valley and the sunrises which complement its beauty.

An Eye In The Sky

The last sunrise of 2012 was a perfect example of a cloud-filled sky with enough room for the sun to light up from below. Two airplanes which had broken through the ceiling created a set of eyes in the sky.

Timing is Red on Ice

Edmonton welcomed Red Bull Crashed Ice with a red sunrise on the first day of the adrenaline packed weekend. The downtown atmosphere has never been the same after the #yegcitement.

An RCMP Tribute
A few days after Constable David Wynn was shot on duty, he died. That same morning, there was a sunrise in the same colours found on RCMP vehicles.

Constable Daniel Woodall Memorial

Similar to the RCMP tribute, the morning after the news broke of Constable Daniel Woodall being killed in the line on duty, there was no sunrise. Instead, the sky was in a serene blue in tribute to a wonderful caring police officer and family man.

Smooth Operator

The most unique sunrise I’ve seen is probably this one. It was like the clouds formed a blank canvas for light to beam directly onto it in a gradient you only find on computer programs.

Tuscan Hills

In autumn, there is often fog and mist during sunrise where you are sometimes transported to another place in the world. In this one, it looked like flying over Tuscany at the break of dawn.

Golden Autumn Morning

There’s a week or two every fall right after the leaves change colour, and before they fall off, that the entire North Saskatchewan River Valley is yellow. Add a morning sunrise and it shimmers in gold as the sun reflects off office buildings and lights up the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, an architectural gem on the skyline.

Weather Education

Occasionally, you’ll catch interesting weather phenomenon watching sunrises. The term ‘sundog’ became a household name after one appeared in November 2013. It had all the TV weather personalities talking about sundogs and what conditions create them.

Foggy Reception

While on the topic of weather phenomenon, when the first winter deep freeze hits in Edmonton, there’s always some spectacular fog which follows.

Red October Sky

The sunrise at the end of October in 2016 was one of the most photographed in recent Edmonton history, because it lasted for a really long time. You can see how the sunrise developed into a fiery scene with the photos going back in time 30 minutes.

Ridiculous Colours

The sunrise photos from Jan 21, 2015 were my second most viewed sunrise photos. This tweet has been viewed over 12,000 times. Even the same sunrise can have several spectacular vantage points as you see.

My Favourite Sunrise

This photo tops my list as one of my favourite sunrise photos (just slightly as there’s so many incredible ones) because of the silhouette of the hotel and the frozen river flowing towards the warm glow of the morning.

Most Viewed Sunrise

My most viewed sunrise photo has been viewed over 23,000 times and counting. It truly is a work of art which I am honoured to have captured. Seeing so many sunrises, you sometimes have to use perky captions to deliver the message. But the caption perfectly fits this rush hour sunrise. What’s the rush? Take the time and enjoy the beauty this city has to offer. This sunrise was so popular I now use it as the beginning of my greetings feed on Twitter. So if you’re looking to ‘subscribe’ to Edmonton sunrises, follow that tweet.