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Weather : Unusual Pheonmena

A resource guide pertaining to weather and forecasting data.
Unusual Weather Phenomena

Examples of some of the rarest known weather phenomena.

Northern Lights

The northern lights, or the aurora borealis, are beautiful dancing waves of light that have captivated people for millennia. But for all its beauty, this spectacular light show is a rather violent event. Energized particles from the sun slam into Earth's upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 45 million mph (72 million kph), but our planet's magnetic field protects us from the onslaught. (

Aurora Forecast - From the Geophysical Institute, connected to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Includes additional information about auroras.

Northern Lights Centre - "The Northern Lights Centre also incorporates interactive displays that explain the science and folklore of the Northern Lights with the latest information about the Canadian space program. Canadian rocket technology played an important part in early Northern Lights research."

Fallstreak Clouds

"Also known as a hole punch cloud or cloud canal, a Fallstreak hole can form inside cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds. These holes are thought to appear when the water temperature in the clouds is freezing but hasn't formed ice. When ice crystals do form (which can be helped by things like a passing plane), it sets off a chain reaction with can led to water droplets evaporating and leaving a massive hole behind. Because of their strange appearance and rarity, their formation has been known to be incorrectly blamed on unidentified flying objects." (

Fallstreak Clouds (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)

Fallstreaks: What are They?

Naga Fireballs

"Witnesses of these mysterious lights often compare them to fireballs, thus the common name. They remain a highly localized phenomenon with people spotting them only along the Mekong River. Also, they have only been reported along a specific 155 mi (250 km) section of the river. While they appear throughout the year, more occur during the full moon in late autumn, than any other night. This fact merely makes for yet another mystery. These so-called fireballs actually appear to rise from the water. The reason remains unknown (hence the mystery). Though they rise to heights of as much as 985 ft (300 m), they disappear rapidly and typically glow with a primarily reddish or orange color." (

Naga Fireballs on the Mekong River - ResearchGate

Fire Tornadoes

"Fire tornadoes (or 'fire whirls', to give them their correct name) are most common in large-scale wildfires, and are not actual tornadoes but vortices that suck in gases and combustable materials. They can last an hour or more, and the temperature inside them can reach over 1,000 degrees inside." (

PBS explains how fire whirls and fire tornados form

What Exactly is a Fire Tornado?

Transient Luminous Events: Elves, Jets & Sprites

Red sprites, blue jets and elves are upper atmospheric optical phenomena associated with thunderstorms that have only recently been documented by using low light level television technology. These phenomena are collectively called Transient Luminous Events (TLE's). As observations continue, scientists are collecting a confusing menagerie of phenomena. (Red Sprites, Blue Jets and Elves - University at Albany)

What are Lightning Sprites?

What Are Lightning Sprites? Magic in the Skies!


"Tornadic waterspouts can suck fish out of the water, carry them into the cloud and deposit them on to land. They have the same characteristics as a land-based tornado and are usually accompanied by high winds and severe thunderstorms.

The less dangerous type of waterspout is known as the fair weather waterspout, which are very weak and only last a few minutes. It also differs in that it forms on the surface of the water and doesn't tend to move very far, due to the gentle nature of the surrounding climate conditions." (

About Waterspouts (National Weather Service)

What is a Waterspout? - National Ocean Service