Everyone’s heard the saying April showers bring May flowers, but given spring has been somewhat late this year (Punxsutawney Phil did predict this when he saw his shadow) the rain has just begun to start pouring down. Looking up at a sky filled with dark clouds and the occasional lightning strike you might start thinking about what other weather phenomena occur on the planet. So here is a list of a few of the rarest weather phenomena on the planet.
#1: Fire Rainbows
Fire rainbows scientifically known as circumhorizontal arcs are a type of light phenomenon that is shaped like a flame in the sky but is coloured like a rainbow. They are neither rainbow nor flame, but instead caused by light refracting through high-altitude cirrus clouds which results in the strange phenomenon. They can only occur when the sun is high and along the mid-latitudes in the summertime.
#2: Asperitas Clouds
This specific type of cloud did not have a name classification until 2014. Asperitas clouds are the classic spooky clouds used to fill the sky in horror movies, but are quite rare in real life. They are low-lying clouds caused by weather fronts that create the formation of underlying waves of clouds. The clouds vary due to illumination and thickness, and are usually found in the Great Plains of the United States after a thunderstorm.
Sprites are not your typical type of lightning. They are a type of transient luminous event in which cold plasma discharge occurs above thunderclouds to balance the positive lightning being released to the ground. They usually occur as large red bolts of lightning, but cannot be seen as they are high up in the atmosphere. With the increase of light pollution studying and seeing sprites has become increasingly difficult.
#4: Aurora Borealis
The Aurora Borealis commonly known as the northern or southern lights are extremely well known despite their rareness. The Aurora’s are created by solar wind disturbing the magnetosphere. Protons and electrons change their movement and precipitate into the upper atmosphere creating the phenomenon. The Auroras typically occur closer to the Earth’s poles, but can be seen in lower latitudes where there is no light pollution and will appear to look farther away.
#5: The Green Ray
The Green Ray is an optical phenomenon that only occurs right before sunrise or right after sunset. If conditions are just right a green spot or ray can be seen right above the sun for a few seconds. This happens because the atmosphere can separate light into different colours.
The weather can impact people’s lives drastically in both negative and positive ways. However, these rare weather phenomena can make a person step back and appreciate the beauty of Earth’s weather!
Dubner, Analise. “The Most Rare Atmospheric Phenomena on Earth”. Ranker. 10 August 2020. https://www.ranker.com/list/the-most-rare-atmospheric-phenomena-on-earth/analise.dubner
Cutmore, James. “The weirdest and rarest weather phenomena from around the world”. Science Focus. 20 October 2019. https://www.sciencefocus.com/planet-earth/the-weirdest-and-rarest-weather-phenomena-from-around-the-world/