21 Rare and Incredible Weather Phenomena That You Never Knew About

By | August 27, 2014

Our planet is so amazing and unique, and these phenomena prove it even more.

#1. Catatumbo Lighting – At the mouth of the Catatumbo River in Venezuela, a very unique mass of storm clouds swirls, creating the rare spectacle known as Catatumbo lightning. The storm occurs up to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and 280 times an hour.

catatumbo lightning

#2. Fire Rainbows – Fire Rainbows are formed by light reflecting from ice crystals in high level clouds. The halos are so large, they often appear parallel to the horizon

fire rainbows

#3. Fire Whirls – Fire whirls are whirlwinds of flame. They occur when intense heat and turbulent wind conditions combine.

fire whirls

#4. Frost Flowers – Frost flowers are formed when sap in the stem of plants freezes and expands, cracking the stem. Water then draws through the cracks and freezes upon contact with the air, eventually forming exquisite patterns.

frost flowers

#5. Glory – glory is an optical phenomenon, similar to a rainbow, that resembles a halo. It occurs when light near rain droplets tunnels through air inside the droplets and emit the light backwards.


#6. Lenticular Clouds – Lenticular clouds are lens-shaped clouds that form when moist air flows over a mountain and piles into large and layered clouds. Due to their strange shape, these clouds are often mistaken for UFOs.

lenticular clouds

#7. Mammatus Clouds – Mammatus clouds are cloud pouches that form and hang underneath the base of a cloud. They form when air and clouds holding different levels of moisture mix, with the heavier one sinking below the lighter.

mammatus clouds

#8. Moonbow – Moonbows are rainbows produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon, rather than the sun. Due to the small amount of light reflected off the moon, moonbows are quite faint.


#9. Asperatus Clouds – Asperatus Clouds were only classified in 2009. As a result, we know little about them other than the fact that they look amazing.

asperatus clouds

#10. Belt of Venus – The Belt of Venus is a pink glowing arch seen across the sky when the shadow of the Earth’s translucent atmosphere casts a shadow back upon itself.

belt of venus

#11. Brinicle – Brinicles are the underwater equivalent of icicles. They form beneath ice when a flow of saline water is introduced to ocean water.


#12. Cappuccino Coast – Foaming occurs when high levels of algae and waste enter water. These components act like shampoo and reduce the surface tension, creating bubbles and foam.

cappuccino coast

#13. Sun Dogs – Sun dogs are an atmospheric phenomenon that happen when ice crystals cause light to appear brighter when the sun is at a certain angle.

sun dogs

#14. Sprites, Blue Elves, and Jets – These colourful shapes are the result of electrical discharges in the atmosphere.

sprites, blue elves, jets

#15. Snow Donuts – Snow donuts are formed when chunks of snow are blown along the ground by wind, picking up material along the way. The inner layers are weak and can easily blow away, leaving a donut.

snow donuts

#16. Penitentes – Penitentes are tall, thin blades of hardened snow and ice that form at high altitudes. At such a height, the sun’s rays are able to turn ice into water vapor without melting it first. Some areas randomly turn into vapor more quickly than others, forming depressions in the smooth surface. Over time, they transform into jagged fields which face the same direction as the sun.


#17. Morning Glory – Morning Glory clouds are incredibly rare, so much so, that we don’t know what causes them. They’re most commonly seen at fall in the small town of Burketown in Australia.

morning glory

#18. White Rainbows – These rainbows form in fog, rather than rain. The condensation reflects little light, and as a result, the rainbow is made up of very weak colors – like white – rather than the vibrant colors of a traditional rainbow.

white rainbows

#19. Watersprouts – Waterspouts are vortexes, which occur over a body of water. No water is sucked in and the sprout is made entirely from water given off by condensation.


#20. Volcanic Lightning – Volcanic plumes produce immense amounts of electrical charge and static. In rare cases, this can spark a violent lightning storm.

volcanic lightning

#21. Supercells – Supercells are the rarest and most dangerous type of storms. While they are formed just like other storms, the vertical rotation of their updraft means that they can sustain themselves for far longer than the average storm.


Absolutely incredible, but astounding at the same time considering we still have no idea how some of these even form. Share with your friends 🙂