Image: Raymond Lam
When you think you understand the beauty in nature, especially in the magical awe that a rainbow can inspire, then something will appear that still manages to both surprise and delight you in equal measure. Just occasionally, the weather conditions will line up perfectly to provide us with a visual feast that we need to be very quick to catch sight of. At times reminding us of the aurora borealis or simple rainbows, these events are nothing short of a magical experience in their own right.
These are fire rainbows – the rarest of all naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena. The clouds needed for these rare events have to be cirrus and at least 20,000 feet in the air, with just the right amount of ice crystals. The sun also has to hit the clouds at precisely 58 degrees.
Image: courtesy of cylive.com
It looks like a rainbow on fire, but this phenomenon is as cold as ice. Known in the weather world as a circumhorizontal arc, this isn’t a rainbow in the traditional sense – it is caused by light passing through wispy, high-altitude cirrus clouds.