Britons woke up to a seasonal treat in the sky this morning, as an eye-popping rainbow cloud was spied over northern areas leaving residents stunned.
The colourful formation is made of nacreous clouds and they’re especially rare. One astounded spotter described the clouds as looking like a “portal to the next dimension”.
Nacreous clouds are also referred to as the “mother-of-pearl” and require very specific conditions to occur – chiefly very low temperatures in the upper atmosphere.
The formation is rare in Britain as it’s not generally cold enough. Nacreous clouds are more likely to be visible in polar regions. But what brings about the mix of colours visible beneath clouds of this kind?
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The magical spectacle is caused by ice crystals forming in the air at around -80C. Those ice crystals reflect the sun and generate the rainbow-like colour patterns.
Reports of sightings of the clouds were made in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as Newcastle in the north east and as far south as Worcester to the south west of Birmingham.
Brits on social media were blown away by the unusual clouds. Martin Emmerson in the north east took to X to say: “Wowzeroonies. Huge rainbow cloud across the Roker Riviera now.”
Another posted on the platform: “We spotted these rainbow clouds overhead on the walk to the nursery this morning. They were absolutely stunning: I’ve never seen anything like it!”
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Sky News’ weather presenter Jo Wheeler layed out why Brits are so rarely treated to such a visual display in the sky.
She explained: “The cloud must be thin and contain numerous water droplets or ice crystals of about the same size. These iridescent clouds are also known as fire rainbows or rainbow clouds and occur when sunlight diffracts off the water droplets/ice crystals.
She added: “When the drops are more spherical than teardrop shaped, the conditions are right for rainbow clouds to appear.”
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