7 strange weather phenomena that seem supernatural

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7 unusual weather phenomena that seem otherworldly

Weather shapes our world in ways we often take for granted. It can change from clear skies to stormy rains in just hours, affecting everything from what we wear to how we plan our day.

We’re surrounded by weather every day, and it plays a crucial role in our lives. But beyond the daily forecast of sun, rain, or snow, there’s a whole world of weather phenomena that are less common but no less fascinating.

Some of these can be explained by science, while others remain a mystery, challenging our understanding of the natural world.

From rains that paint the sky red to lightning that seems to dance in the night, these are stories of the sky showing its more unpredictable side.

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1. Blood rain

Have you ever heard of rain that looks like it’s colored with red ink?

It sounds like something out of a storybook, but this weather phenomenon, known as blood rain, is real and has been recorded throughout history.

Imagine looking up at the sky to see the raindrops falling with a red tint, turning puddles and streams into scenes that might make you do a double-take. It’s a sight that has sparked awe (and a bit of worry!) among those who witness it.

Blood rain has been reported in various parts of the world, from the streets of Spain to the fields of India. This unusual weather event doesn’t pick a specific place to appear — instead, it pops up in different regions, leaving people to wonder about its cause.

Historically, it’s been documented for centuries, with reports going as far back as ancient times. People in the past were baffled by this strange weather, and it often became the center of myths and legends.

blood rain weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
A woodcut by Hans Glaser, depicting a rain of blood near Dinkelsbühl on May 26, 1554

So, what causes the rain to turn red? Scientists have been studying this phenomenon and have come up with explanations that demystify blood rain.

One of the most common reasons is the presence of red algae that gets swept up in the atmosphere and mixed with rain, giving the water its distinctive red color.

Another explanation involves dust from the Sahara Desert. This dust, rich in iron oxide (which is basically rust), can travel long distances in the air. When it mixes with rainclouds, it can tint the rain red.

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2. Ball lightning

Imagine during a thunderstorm, instead of the usual lightning strikes, you see a floating, glowing orb moving through the air. This rare weather phenomenon, known as ball lightning, has puzzled us for centuries.

Unlike the quick flash of regular lightning, ball lightning appears as a sphere of light that can last several seconds, moving through the sky or even entering homes through windows and doors.

People who have seen ball lightning describe it as a sphere that glows in different colors, ranging from blue to orange, with a size that can vary from a small marble to a few feet in diameter.

These glowing orbs can float in the air, hover, or zip around before vanishing suddenly, sometimes with a loud bang. The nature of these sightings makes ball lightning one of the most fascinating weather phenomena we encounter.

ball lightning weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
“Globe of Fire Descending into a Room” from The Aerial World, by Dr. G. Hartwig, c 1886

Scientists are keenly interested in understanding what causes ball lightning. Despite being a well-documented phenomenon with numerous eyewitness accounts, it remains one of the world’s biggest puzzles.

Research into ball lightning has explored various theories, including the possibility that it’s a form of electrical discharge unique from the lightning we’re familiar with.

ball lightning
Ball Lightening: A Popular Guide to a Longstanding Mystery in Atmospheric Electricity

Some scientists think it could be related to the materials in the atmosphere during a thunderstorm, while others suggest it might involve a complex interaction of magnetic fields.

Efforts to study ball lightning have been challenging due to its unpredictable and fleeting nature. It’s hard to predict when and where ball lightning will appear, making it difficult for researchers to observe it directly.

However, advances in technology and a better understanding of atmospheric conditions are helping scientists get closer to solving the mystery of ball lightning.

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3. Lenticular clouds

Have you ever looked up at the sky and thought you saw a UFO? It might have been a lenticular cloud!

Unlike the fluffy, white clouds we’re used to seeing, lenticular clouds are smooth and flat, and they look like a lens or a saucer hovering in the sky. Their distinctive appearance is why some people might mistake them for something extraterrestrial.

Lenticular clouds form under specific conditions, which is why we don’t see them every day. They usually develop when moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains.

As the air rises and cools, it condenses into a cloud that takes on a lens-like shape. These clouds remain stationary, even when the wind is blowing, because they form at places where the air flow is just right to keep them in place.

Altocumulus lenticularis Arctowski Station HD weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
Photo: Acaro, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The best time to see lenticular clouds is when the weather is stable but windy, especially in areas near mountains.

People are often fascinated by lenticular clouds for a few reasons. Their unusual shape can make the sky look like a scene from a science fiction movie, sparking stories about UFOs and otherworldly visitors.

Photographers and sky watchers seek out these clouds for their beauty and rarity. When the setting or rising sun hits a lenticular cloud, it can light up with brilliant colors, creating a spectacular sight.

Despite their mysterious look, lenticular clouds are a natural phenomenon with a clear explanation. Understanding how they form and where you’re likely to see them can turn a moment of surprise into an opportunity to appreciate the amazing weather phenomena our planet has to offer.

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4. Fish rain

Can you imagine stepping outside and instead of water, you find fish raining down from the sky? Sounds like a scene from a movie, right?

But fish rain is a real weather phenomenon that has surprised people all over the world. This strange weather event has left many scratching their heads, wondering how fish can fall from the sky.

Fish rain happens when strong winds, often from tornadic waterspouts, pick up fish and other small aquatic animals from bodies of water and carry them into the clouds.

FMIB 43716 Reputed Shower of Fish and Nikolaisberg, Transylvania weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather

Waterspouts are like tornadoes that form over water, and they can be powerful enough to suck up lightweight objects, including small sea creatures.

When the waterspout loses its energy and the wind slows down, whatever was picked up can be dropped miles away from the original water source. This is how fish can end up raining down over land.

Gravure de pluie de poissons weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
A 16th century engraving of a rain of fish

There have been notable instances of fish rain around the world, from small towns in Honduras to the streets of Australia. Each event leaves the local community in awe, with stories and pictures quickly spreading.

In some places, fish rain has even become an expected, though still surprising, seasonal occurrence. For example, the town of Yoro in Honduras experiences fish rain so regularly that they have a festival called “Lluvia de Peces” or “Rain of Fish” to celebrate it.

5. Sprites, jets, and elves

When we think of weather phenomena, we often picture events happening close to the ground or in the clouds. However, some of the most fascinating weather activities take place way above us, high in the atmosphere — where sprites, jets, and elves occur.

These are not characters from a fantasy story but names given to real, yet fleeting, atmospheric phenomena that light up the sky above large thunderstorms.

Sprites are large, red flashes that appear directly above thunderstorms and shoot upward into the atmosphere. They can reach up to 60 miles high, and despite their powerful appearance, they are completely silent.

sprite weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
Sprites seen in France. Photo: Denis huber, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jets are similar but are blue in color and shoot up from the tops of thunderclouds at incredible speeds.

Elves are different in that they form a rapidly expanding ring of light in the upper atmosphere, growing up to 300 miles across within just a few milliseconds.

These high-altitude weather phenomena were first captured by cameras on space shuttles in the late 20th century, leading to a whole new area of atmospheric research.

Before their discovery, pilots and scientists had reported seeing strange lights above storms, but it wasn’t until technology advanced enough that we were able to confirm their existence and study them in detail.

Lightning Strikes Up sprite weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
A gigantic jet. Photo: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/A. Smith, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They play a significant role in the electrical and chemical processes that occur in the upper layers of the atmosphere, affecting everything from weather patterns to radio communications.

Scientists are still working to fully understand how these phenomena occur and what effects they have on our planet.

These colorful displays above thunderstorms remind us that there is still so much to learn about our atmosphere. As research continues, we hope to uncover more about these fascinating weather phenomena and their role in the Earth’s atmospheric system.

6. The Morning Glory cloud

A giant tube-shaped cloud rolls across the sky, stretching from one horizon to the other. This isn’t a scene from a movie — it’s a real weather phenomenon known as the Morning Glory cloud.

This rare type of roll cloud creates a stunning visual spectacle that captures the attention of both scientists and thrill-seekers. What makes the Morning Glory cloud stand out is its unique structure — a long, tube-like cloud that seems to roll smoothly across the sky.

One of the best places in the world to witness the Morning Glory cloud is in Northern Australia, particularly over the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Here, under the right conditions, these clouds can appear in the early morning, providing a breathtaking view to those lucky enough to see it. This phenomenon typically occurs in the late dry season, from late September to early November.

MorningGloryCloudBurketownFromPlane weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
Photo: Mick Petroff, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, what causes the Morning Glory cloud? Scientists believe that it forms due to a combination of factors.

Sea breezes from opposite coasts meet in the Gulf of Carpentaria. There are temperature differences between the land and sea. Then, the unique layout of the local geography channels the air precisely.

When these conditions come together, they create a single, or sometimes multiple, roll clouds that glide gracefully across the sky.

The Morning Glory cloud is not just a beautiful sight — it’s also a magnet for glider pilots who ride the air currents created by the cloud.

This provides them with a unique flying experience, riding along the cloud for hundreds of miles. For scientists, the Morning Glory cloud offers valuable insights into atmospheric conditions and helps improve our understanding of weather patterns.

Morning Glory, caminos de nubes weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
Photo: Jochos89, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. Frost flowers

In the cold, quiet moments of early winter, nature creates one of its most delicate masterpieces: frost flowers.

These aren’t actual flowers, but intricate ice formations that appear to blossom on plants or sea ice. They form a display of natural artistry, showcasing the beauty of weather phenomena under the right conditions.

Frost flowers develop when the air is much colder than the ground or the surface of the sea ice. For those on plants, the process begins when the plant’s stem freezes and cracks, allowing sap to ooze out.

As the sap comes into contact with the cold air, it freezes, creating thin layers of ice that curl and twist into shapes resembling petals.

Frost flowers, Fireagh Lough - geograph.org.uk - 4821712 weather phenomenon, weather phenomena, natural phenomena, strange weather
Photo: Frost flowers, Fireagh Lough by Kenneth Allen, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On sea ice, frost flowers form when the atmosphere is colder than the ice, causing moisture to freeze and crystalize, creating delicate, flower-like structures.

The conditions for frost flower formation are specific: the air must be calm, and the temperature just below freezing. This phenomenon is most common at the beginning of winter or in polar regions where the sea begins to freeze.

The beauty of frost flowers is fleeting, as they are delicate and can melt away with even the slightest change in temperature or direct sunlight.

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Photo: Zotel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

What natural phenomena experiences have you had?

From the mysterious red tint of blood rain to the delicate beauty of frost flowers, nature continues to amaze us with its creativity.

These natural phenomena, some explained and others still puzzling scientists, remind us of the endless mysteries waiting to be uncovered. The strange weather events we’ve explored are just a few examples of how surprising our planet can be.

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Rare Natural Phenomena & Unusual Coincidences: Surprising Facts that Make You Wonder

Each phenomenon offers a unique opportunity for discovery and awe, inviting us to look closer at the world around us and appreciate the interactions that drive our atmosphere.

Maybe you’ve experienced one of these firsthand, or have noticed other unusual weather phenomena in your area? If so, we’d love to hear about it!

Who knows what other wonders are waiting just around the corner, ready to surprise and inspire us? 👻

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