Most Spectacular Weather Events of All Time Caught on Camera

By Sophia Maddox | March 18, 2024

Polar Stratospheric Clouds

Join us we embark on a journey through the world of astonishing weather phenomena. From the awe-inspiring dance of the Northern Lights to the dramatic fury of tornadoes, nature's wonders never cease to amaze. In this series, we'll explore 40 remarkable weather events that have been caught on film, revealing the stunning beauty and power of our planet's atmosphere. Each phenomenon offers a glimpse into the fascinating forces at play in our skies, from ethereal fogbows to the explosive brilliance of volcanic lightning. Get ready to be both educated and entertained as we unravel the mysteries of weather and delve into the breathtaking moments that remind us of the Earth's incredible dynamism. So, let's embark on this meteorological adventure and discover the astonishing weather phenomena that continue to captivate and inspire us all.

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Alan Tough via Royal Meteorological Society / Natural History

Polar stratospheric clouds, also known as "nacreous clouds" or "mother-of-pearl clouds," are a rare event that occurs in the Earth's stratosphere, typically at high latitudes near the polar regions. These clouds are distinguished by their vibrant and iridescent colors, ranging from pinks and purples to greens and blues, which result from the scattering of sunlight by tiny ice crystals or supercooled water droplets within the clouds.

Polar stratospheric clouds form during the frigid winter months when temperatures in the stratosphere drop to extremely low levels. These cold conditions enable the formation of ice crystals or supercooled water droplets, which are not typical in the stratosphere under normal circumstances. Their iridescent colors and unique appearance make polar stratospheric clouds a captivating and rare sight in the sky, and they have significant implications for the chemical processes that lead to ozone depletion in the polar regions.

Parhelion

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Michal Krzysztofowicz via Royal Meteorological Society / Natural History

A parhelion, also known as a "sun dog" or "mock sun," is an optical phenomenon that creates the appearance of one or more bright spots of light on either side of the sun, often forming a halo-like effect. Parhelia occur due to the refraction, or bending, of sunlight by hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. These ice crystals align themselves horizontally as they fall through the atmosphere, refracting sunlight and creating the illusion of additional suns.

Parhelia are typically seen when the sun is low on the horizon, such as during sunrise or sunset. They are often accompanied by a 22-degree halo, which encircles the sun, adding to the visual spectacle.