Rare ‘Fire Rainbow’ Photographed Over Isle of Palms, SC

Now this isn’t something you’ll see everyday.

Residents on Isle of Palms, South Carolina caught a glimpse of a rare spectacle known as “iridescent clouds,” or a “fire rainbow,” on Sunday afternoon.

People submitted photos of the beautiful, multi-colored clouds to Live 5 News in Charleston, with many saying the sight resembled an angel flying overhead.

(Photo Credit: Tracey Smith)
(Photo Credit: Tracey Smith)

So what caused this incredible phenomenon? Here’s more from Live 5:

     According to Meteorologist Justin Lock, a strict set of conditions are required for fire rainbows to appear. First, they only occur in high-level cirrus clouds made up of tiny ice crystals.

     “To produce the rainbow colors the sun’s rays must enter the ice crystals at a precise angle to give the prism effect of the color spectrum,” Lock said, adding the sun must be at an altitude of at least 58 degrees above the horizon. “Again, it has to do with getting the precise angle.”

     Lock says we often see the same kind of thing occur with colorful sunsets in which high-level cirrus clouds produce many colors because of the low angle of the sun reflecting and diffracting light, producing brilliant reds, oranges and purples.


Just awesome.

(Photo Credit: Tracey Smith)
(Photo Credit: Jackie Hill )

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