Small droplets, big colors!

Picture from viewer Nigel Thomas Ashworth

Today’s cover photo is a beautiful example of what you might call a “rainbow in the clouds.” In fact, this phenomenon goes by the term “cloud iridescence” or “irisation,” named after the Greek goddess, Iris, goddess of the rainbows! Obviously, showing the same colors, it’s easy to think of these as rainbows although they don’t arch and they don’t form following a rain shower. Here’s another example from Click2Pins taken just the other day:

Cloud iridescence from click2pins

So just how do these colors form? Like rainbows, sunlight is part of the equation as you can’t get any light without the sun! That light enters the water droplets or ice crystals at just the right angle to be refracted to the other side and as it leaves the droplet it creates those prism colors. The differences lie in the size of the droplets and crystals. Cloud iridescence occurs when the sunlight finds very small droplets or crystals and usually occurs just as the cloud is forming as you need a thin layer of moisture for the light to pass through. And they form more often on a calm day when wind doesn’t scatter the cloud.

Meteorologist Anthony Yanez caught one the other night:

Taken by Meteorologist Anthony Yanez

Speaking of colors, it’s amazing to see bluebonnets already sprouting around town, but spring is here!

from a Click2pins user

And while we’re on the color blue, Click2Pins user John Sedlak sent a sunset the other day that reminded me of an impressionistic painting of the Ukrainian flag:

from John Sedlak on click2pins
Ukrainian Flag

Have a good weekend and let’s keep strong thoughts for peace at the forefront!

Frank

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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.