First Alert Weather In-Depth: Iridescent clouds
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — You may have noticed a very interesting sky Monday. We had clouds at different levels and the clouds were moving in different directions.
The visible satellite image shows the cumulus clouds that had developed. They almost look like cotton balls in the sky and they are found in the lower portions of the atmosphere. On the broader view of the satellite time-lapse, you can also see what appears like sheeting or streaks in the cloud cover. That is a totally different type of cloud and that is called a cirrus cloud. These clouds are made up of ice crystals. They are found in the highest portions of the atmosphere. These particular clouds do not block out much of the sunshine.
These cirrus clouds are at the highest levels and reaching heights of 23,000 to 40,000 feet above the surface of the Earth. The cumulus clouds are usually in the lower portions of the atmosphere, at least when we do not have stormy weather, and they run around 7,000 feet to 8,000 feet.
A really interesting picture was sent in from Tim Monday. If you look closely, you can actually see what appears to be a rainbow effect with different colors. That is the cirrus cloud and at that high altitude, the cloud is made up entirely of ice crystals. How does that work? Visible light comes in from the sun and the ice crystals will bend and refract the visible light. And if you have a set of sunglasses, you can usually see this unusual view.
Nothing like the beauty of Mother Nature.