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See the rare rainbow cloud that just formed over Ireland and England

The sky above Dublin, Ireland and north-east England became a breathtaking sight with “absolutely stunning” iridescent lights on Thursday morning. Rare “rainbow clouds” form in the early morning, sending waves of yellow, pink and blue over houses.

Locals took videos of the clouds giving the sky an almost oil-slick glow. According to NOAA, this phenomenon is “relatively rare” and only occurs when clouds are thin and filled with water droplets or ice crystals.

Rare mother-of-pearl clouds, known as rainbow clouds, formed over Tynemouth Abbey in northeast England on December 21, 2023.

Image Owen Humphreys/PA via Getty Images

One person said: “I was lucky enough to spend time watching some very rare nacreous clouds appear and disappear this morning near Swords, north county Dublin.” posted a video of social media clouds. “Absolutely impressive and mesmerizing.”

What causes rainbow clouds to form?

These colorful clouds, also known as nacreous clouds, tend to form over the polar regions in the lower stratosphere at altitudes between 68,500 and 100,000 feet in the air. UK Met Office speak. They occur when the sun is just below the horizon and illuminates the clouds from below.

Rainbow clouds are filled with ice particles which the Met Office says are “much smaller than those that make up regular clouds” and when light hits them it scatters, creating Bright colors.

“When that happens, sunlight encounters only a few drops at a time,” NOAA said. “For this reason, semi-transparent clouds or those that have just formed are the ones most likely to have an iridescence.”

When clouds like this form Virginia last year, Weather Channel meteorologist Jen Carfagno told CBS News it was reminiscent of “pixie dust or unicorn sprinkles.”

The Met Office says rainbow clouds are best seen when the sun is between 1° and 6° below the horizon and are often found in higher latitudes, including northern Canada . Because they only form at temperatures below -108 degrees Fahrenheit, they are most likely to occur during polar winters, the office added, and are “primarily associated with very cold weather.” and dry”.


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