Although they aren’t actually made of fire or traditional rainbows, “fire rainbows” are truly a sight to behold. These stunning natural phenomena, also called iridescent clouds, form when clouds consist of water droplets that are similar in size. Through diffraction and bending of light, the clouds separate into various wavelengths and colors, resulting in an extraordinary display of color. While they’re relatively rare, the beauty of iridescent clouds is truly breathtaking.
Astonishing Image: Gorgeous ‘Fire Rainbow’ Although these “fire rainbows” are not ablaze and have nothing to do with rainbows, they are simply breathtaking. The similarity between iridescent clouds and the colorful splendours of a rainbow is impressive. Both are created thanks to diffraction, which generates a captivating range of colors that alternate from blue to green, red, purple, and back to blue again, resulting in a remarkable, pulsating design.
It’s worth mentioning that even though rainbows show a range of colors, the way they are formed is not exactly the same. The process behind rainbows involves the bending of light through different mediums with varying densities like water and prisms, which results in refraction and reflection. In refraction, the light changes direction as it passes through the medium, while in reflection, the light bounces off the surface at an angle equal to its point of impact. However, diffraction scatters the light waves into a circular pattern.
Similar to other objects that display iridescence, such as the feathers of peacocks, the colors exhibited by iridescent clouds change based on a person’s position in relation to both the sun and the cloud. Newly formed clouds are often linked to iridescent cloud events, and the recent sighting in South Florida follows this trend. As per the Weather Channel, these clouds are known as pileus clouds and form when a thunderstorm rapidly grows and pushes air into the upper atmosphere through a layer of moisture. This process leads to the creation of a misty cloud that appears like a glittering dome atop the thunderstorm.
It’s important to distinguish fire rainbows from circumhorizontal arcs, which appear as stripes of color running parallel to the horizon. A stunning snapshot of this captivating natural occurrence was captured on July 31st in the South Florida skies, offering us a peek into the magical realm of iridescent clouds.