Top 10 Strangest Weather Phenomena

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Global warming and climate change continue to spur debate between scientists and politicians both. News programs warn of coastal cities eventually being flooded as

sea levels rise.

While temperatures in the 70s during December may seem crazy, it isn’t the craziest weather we’ve seen. Here’re the top 10 strangest weather phenomena.

10. Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis Strange Weather

Called the “Northern Lights,” Aurora Borealis is one of the more well-known weather phenomena. The colorful evening light show, known as Aurora Australis in the south, is caused by charged particles from the Sun reaching Earth’s upper atmosphere and increasing their energy as they collide with other particles in the atmosphere. The particles from the sun release their energy in the form of light when they return to lower energy states, similar to how a neon light works. 

9. Colored Moons

Colored Moons Strange Weather Phenomena

The moon sometimes appears to be different colors, tinged with red, orange or even blue. What causes this rare phenomenon is particles of dust or smoke in the atmosphere. Eclipses also cause the moon to change color. 

8. Brinicles

brincile-oceans-strange weather phenomena

Imagine finger-like icicles forming in the sea. These brinicles form when heat from seawater flows up above sea ice and comes into contact with the colder temperature, pushing newly formed ice into brine or salt channels.

The cold brine’s temperature is lower than that of the surrounding seawater but it doesn’t freeze because of the salt. It leaks out of the sea ice and freezes the fresh seawater it comes into contact with, causing a tube of ice around a descending plume. These brinicles are found in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. 

7. St. Elmo’s Fire

St. Elmo’s Fire Strange Weather Phenomena

The phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s Fire appears to create a blue fire-like appearance around objects during a thunderstorm. It’s seen when there’s a high voltage in the air and an electrically charged ground below the storm.

The light is actually plasma caused by electrons and protons of gas particles pulling away from each other because of the high voltage. The blue light is caused by nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere, which makes the mixture appear blue when it collides with the high voltage surrounding it. St. Elmo’s Fire, unlike another phenomenon called ball lightning, always appears around an object. 

6. Moonbows

Moonbows Strange Weather Phenomena

We’ve all seen rainbows, but what about a rainbow at night? A moonbow, also known as a lunar rainbow, is a rainbow caused by light reflected off the moon’s surface. They aren’t as colorful as rainbows and appear white but may show up with more colors in long-exposure photographs. 

5. Roll Clouds

Roll Clouds Strange Weather Phenomena

Specific conditions in the sky cause clouds appearing to look like giant rolling pins to appear. These tubular clouds are caused when air temperatures invert, sinking cold air and causing warmer, moist air on Earth’s surface to climb to higher altitudes and cause clouds. Storm winds roll the clouds into this shape that resembles a horizontal tornado – but without the punch. 

4. Thundersnow

Thundersnow Strangest Weather Phenomena

While we relate thunder and lightning to any season except winter, they do rarely happen during snowstorms. Called thundersnow, it happens when the sun heats the ground and warm air pushes upward, forming unstable columns of air that cause both snow and hail to form. It requires moist air near the ground and a mass of cold air above warm air. 

3. Ball Lightning

Ball Lightning Strange Weather Phenomena

Ball lightning appears like a luminous sphere, sometimes moving slower than regular lightning. There have been sightings of ball lightning as big as eight feet in diameter, producing tales that go back to the Middle Ages or possibly before. It is believed that ball lightning killed Georg Richmann, an 18th-century electricity researcher, making him the first scientist known to die while studying electricity. 

2. Fire Whirl

Fire Whirl Strange Weather Phenomena

Combine a tornado and a fire in your mind and you can picture what’s called a fire whirl. The heat from an active wildfire can cause strong vertical air currents that cause the fire to go vertical, forming a tornado-like vortex of flames. Some burn out quickly but others can keep going, such as a fire whirl that happened after an earthquake in Japan in 1923 and killed thousands. Another fire whirl was spotted during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Hillsides, trees, and walls of flames force air to shift or rotate up into different air temperatures and speeds, sometimes causing a tornado-like appearance to the fire. 

1. Raining Animals

Raining Animals Strange Weather Phenomena

While it certainly doesn’t happen often, there have been accounts of animals mysteriously falling from the sky. During recent times, there have been stories of fish raining down in Australia, India and the Philippines. Frogs supposedly fell in Japan and Hungary and tadpoles in Japan.

While many are believed to be made up, some researchers have suggested that violent wind gusts could lift up groups of animals that then would rain back to the ground. This includes waterspouts, tornadoes that form over water and can pick up animals before releasing them elsewhere. This phenomenon is by far craziest among the 10 strangest weather phenomena.

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