Fire rainbows are one of the most rare natural atmospheric phenomenons. For a fire rainbow to occur, there has to be cirrus clouds at precisely 20,000 feet off the ground, there has to be the right amount of ice crystals in the cirrus clouds, and the sun has to hit the clouds exactly at a 90 degree angle.
Hence the name, fire rainbows looks like a rainbow on fire. But that is not the case. These rainbows are ice cold and known in the weather world as a circumhorizontal arc. Furthermore, to make a fire rainbow even more rare, the ice crystals making up the clouds have to be hexagonal and shaped like thick plates with their faces parallel to the ground.
When light passes through a vertical side face and down the bottom of such an ice crystal, the ice crystal will refract or bend the light, the same way a prism would do, and the whole cirrus cloud will light up in a spectrum of colors if the crystals are aligned right.
The 90 degree angle of the light hitting the clouds forms the different colors of the fire rainbow and the light passing through the ice crystals make the arc. All the factors for a fire rainbow to occur are just too much. Many people see it only once in their lifetime or not even once. If you want to see a fire rainbow, the best place to see one is in the United States, so keep your eyes open!
Waterspouts are tornadoes that consist of water and form over the ocean. In other words, it is a whirlwind over water. Inside a waterspout when it is forming, there needs to be rising air currents and relatively low air pressure. Then, the whirlwind starts condensing into a funnel or ropelike cloud. The cloud consists of water vapor that has condensed in the low air pressure. The waterspout starts sucking up water from the ocean surface but surprisingly, most of a waterspout’s moisture comes from the air.
Some waterspouts are really tornadoes fueled by thunderstorms. But waterspouts are really less violent than tornadoes. They usually form in fair weather over tropical warm waters. For the waterspout to start spinning, a warm current of air has to rise from near the surface of the water. Air rushes in to replace the rising air causing the rising air to spin.
Death Valley National Park is home to Racetrack Playa in California. The Racetrack is a dry lake situated 1,130 m above sea level. Even though the lake is 4.5 km long, there is only a 4 cm height difference between the north and south ends. The mountains surrounding the dry lake is made out of dark dolomite towering 1,731 ft above the lake. When heavy rains come, the water travels down from the mountains onto the lake bed forming a shallow lake. Due to the hot temperatures of the region, the water turns into mud and at last dries up forming a mosaic pattern on the ground.
Sometimes, rocks fall onto the dry lake bed. Most are small but sometimes, the rocks can weigh up to 700 pounds! The rocks seem like they are there to stay. That is not the case. The rocks are often found with racetracks stretching behind them several meters long! The tracks are no wider than 30 cm and are no deeper than 2.5 cm. While there is no evidence of human or animal intervention, the sailing stones remain a mystery.Sailing Stones
Algal blooms usually occur in freshwater or marine waters. Algal blooms are deadly to marine life and it is best if you never see one in your life. There are five things that cause algal blooms: nutrients, temperature, light, turbidity (muddiness of water), and stable conditions.
Nutrients: Nutrients encourage the growth of blue-green algae (the main algae that causes algal blooms). The nutrients are mostly fueled by nitrogen and phosphorus.
Temperature: During the warmer months of the year or in higher water temperatures over 25 degrees Celsius, it is easier for blue-green algae to grow.
Light: Blue-green algae grows easily only if they are exposed to high light intensities for short periods of time.
Turbidity: It is best if the turbidity is low so that more light can reach the blue-green algae.
Stable Conditions: Blue-green algae prefer calm waters with minimal turbulence.
All of these factors react with each other causing the water to change color, turning into an algal bloom and also killing/harming marine life in the area.Algal Bloom
Aurora Borealis, light phenomenon that occurs as a light show over the northern hemisphere, showcases a fascinating display of multicolored brilliance. Better known as the northern lights, this atmospheric phenomena mimics a band of sweeping green, red, blue, or purple band of light that seemingly hovering over the atmosphere. This phenomena has fascinated humankind for countless millennia, some even traveling thousands of miles just to get a fleeting glimpse them today. Most displays of Aurora Borealis occurs typically within a band known as the auroral zone. The southern-hemisphere equivalent of Aurora Borealis is Aurora Australis.
Aurora Borealis occurs when supercharged solar wind particles streaming from the sun collides with Earth’s magnetosphere. As a result of nuclear fusion occurring in the core of our star, solar winds constantly streaking from the sun at up to 1 million miles per hour. Within a few hundred miles of Earth, the particles in the solar winds collide with the Earth’s magnetic field. The force in the magnetic field then redirects the particles, which are electrons, to the Earth’s magnetosphere, a region of magnetic and electric fields. As the electrons enter the region, they slam into the oxygen and nitrogen atoms at a ferocious velocity. The result is a bright, colorful display of atmospheric lights.
The color of an Aurora depends on what type of atoms are struck. For example, red means oxygen atoms and blue means nitrogen atoms.
Normally, we raise our heads and see a majestic arc of seven different colours in the azure sky. But on rare, occasional moments, our eyes register a hazy, white curvature of a “rainbow.” Resembling a white rainbow shrouded in fog, the “rainbow” can’t be more hard to make out. Hence the name, this particularly sparse occurrence is recognized as a fog bow. An extremely rare phenomena, fog bows only occur under precise conditions and has very weak colours.
Instead of being the aftermath of a rainstorm, a fog bow appears only in the midst of fogs. In order for one to form, the water droplets within the fog must be smaller than 0.05 millimeters in volume. The miniscule water droplets is also the prime reason why fogbows have such weak colours, a mostly white with a red outer edge and a bluish inner edge. Because of the whitish hue, fogbows are more often called white rainbows. Upon closer examination, multiple inner rings of various shapes and sizes are visible. When viewed from above in the sky, fogbows looks roughly parallel to a rainbow being shrouded in clouds, earning the beyond obvious nickname cloud bow from aircraft pilots.
From when European sailors first sailed the seas, there have been mysterious reports of huge waves coming out of nowhere. These gargantuan waves wrecked ships and even sunk the mighty galleons. We know these mysterious waves today as rogue waves. Also known as freak waves or monster waves, rogue waves have a famous reputation of coming out of nowhere and overwhelming ships a tsunami sized waves.
Rogue waves are mainly defined by their size, which is twice the average height of a normal wave. Though not the largest at sea, rogue waves are surprisingly large given the usually calm-sea scenario they usually occur in. The cause of these sudden waves are not from a single source. From high winds and strong currents that cause several smaller waves to merge together, theories of what causes rogue waves are pretty widespread.
America’s midwest, otherwise known as Tornado Alley. Every year, hundreds of tornadoes ravage the part of the US, destroying towns, cities, and picking up various animals. On the other hand, the English language has a rather peculiar idiom, “It is raining cats and dogs!” This highlights a strange phenomena of flightless animals just raining down from the sky. Believe it or not, this rather strange occurrence has been witnessed on several occasions.
Throughout the years of settlers in the MIdwest, there have been numerous unconfirmed reports of animals just raining down from the sky directly after a tornado hits. Conditions of the abducted animals have ranged from flailing, alive, as they fall through the air to being completely encased in ice. Sometimes, the product of the “rain” are even shredded animal body parts! One theory as to why this happens is that when tornadoes pass through the prairies, they suck up animals along the way and when they dissipate, they animals that have been swirling around in the tornado just comes raining down. Regardless whether this is true or not, one type of animal that does commonly rain down are birds. It is a regular occurrence for birds to be killed in flight, often in flocks. As a result, they come raining down to the settlers of the Midwest.
All of the natural phenomenons you just read about are all pretty rare. Most of them you see once in a lifetime or probably never at all. Some like fog bows or Aurora Borealis are definitely must-sees. But others like algal blooms and rogue waves, or even waterspouts... hopefully, you never see them, because they aren’t necessarily good. Regardless if it’s good or bad, all of these natural phenomenon are incredibly rare and to catch a glimpse of them will surely open your eyes in amazement.