A rare and mysterious “rainbow cloud” stuns the internet

It felt like a portal to a whimsical parallel universe.

The internet has been shocked by a “rainbow cloud” that has emerged over a city in China as an interdimensional phenomenon. A clip of the weather anomaly has amassed more than 28 million views with onlookers wondering what could have been the cause, Jam Press reported.

In the impressive footage, shot in the city of Haikou, Hainan, and released on August 26, the resplendent circle can be seen hovering above a dark cloud like some kind of cosmic shaved ice.

Ultimately, the alien-looking spectacle is actually a pileus or scarf cloud, smooth clouds that form on top of a rising cumulus – dense, puffy, white – cloud due to updrafts of a thunderstorm, by Jam Press.

“Rapidly rising air in the updraft of a towering cumulus pushes against the cooler air above it, condensing moisture all along the top of the updraft,” The Weather Network describes. “The end result is a graceful pileus donning its neighboring cloud like a cap.”

The vibrant scarf cloud hovers over the houses below.
jam press
Pileus or scarf clouds form on top of a growing cumulus – dense, puffy and white – cloud due to the updrafts of a thunderstorm.
Pileus or scarf clouds form atop a growing, dense, puffy, white cumulus due to the updrafts of a thunderstorm.
jam press

The rainbow halo is actually an atmospheric optical phenomenon called cloud iridescence. It happens when “water droplets or ice crystals in the cloud diffract light around the outside of the droplet, instead of passing it through,” according to Weather Channel meteorologist Jen Carfagno.

She explained to CBS News that “the colors of the spectrum are not as sharp and organized in iridescence as in a rainbow”, adding that “the iridescence of the clouds reminds me of pixie dust or unicorn nuggets”.

The internet was amazed by the rainbow cloud.

“It’s a real atmospheric event as incredible as it sounds,” amazed an armchair meteorologist on Twitter. “Stunning Mother Nature!”

The brilliant hue is caused by a phenomenon known as cloud iridescence, which occurs when small water droplets diffract sunlight.
The brilliant hue is caused by a phenomenon known as cloud iridescence, which occurs when small water droplets diffract sunlight.
jam press
Some Twitter users have compared the phenomenon to a portal to another world.
Twitter users likened the phenomenon to a portal to another world.
jam press

“China has created a portal to another world”, joked a Twitter witwhile another speculated than the blazing fog was caused by a “flying spaghetti monster god”.

Closer to home, a similar colorful curiosity — a rare weather event known as the “Rainbow of Fire” – appeared on the Jersey Shore in 2019, providing a spectacular scene for beachgoers.

The fiery phenomenon is created by light passing through thin, wispy cirrus clouds and being refracted.

“These can only form with high cirrus clouds because they are made up of ice crystals only,” explained AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel. “However, they can be seen farther north in summer because the angle of the sun is higher. They are 46 degrees from the sun, about twice as far as the more typical halo which is 22 degrees from the sun.

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