Driving home after nature's mass-pruning operation Tuesday, we had to negotiate a hazard that had nothing to do with closed roads or dead wood.

The drama in the western sky was so mesmerizing that we had trouble focusing on the road.

We have seen sunsets at the Grand Canyon, in Hawaii, on Cadillac Mountain in Maine, and this might well have trumped them all. We regret only that some folks to the east, where the rains arrive later, missed out.

Around 8 p.m. in areas around the city, the sun peaked out from the retreating clouds cast a haunting yellowish glow that animated what was left of the foliage on the trees.

The clouds, themselves, at once sinewy and billowing, evoked Van Gogh and Monet, but the best was yet to come.

The billowy ones, by the way, were of the Cumulus mammatus variety – and yes they do take their names from the mammary connotation – said Harry Augensen, director of the Widener University Observatory.

Growing up in the Midwest, he is familiar with them since they are associated with severe storms, and Tuesday's certainly qualified.

As the clouds continued to peel away, they were electrified by the freshly emergent sun, and the western sky turned a brilliant reddish orange.

We'll skip the physics lesson and refer you to this fine piece by Stephen Cordifi. Appropriately, he works at the national center of atmospheric mayhem, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

We say appropriately, because sometimes the very best of nature follows its very worst.

Said Augensen, "That's the price you pay for these great sunsets."