What caused Tuesday's rainbow clouds? - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

What caused Tuesday's rainbow clouds?

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By Kait Parker

It wasn't a bird or plane or even a UFO that had many eyes and cameras turned to the skies Tuesday evening. It was pileus clouds.

Pileus clouds are caused by a fast-growing thunderstorm that shoves air into the upper atmosphere through a layer of moisture, creating a layer of ice crystals. These ice crystals form the fog-like cloud that looks like a dome on top of the thunderstorm.

What added to this phenomenon was what's commonly referred to as a "fire rainbow".

The sun helps form an optical phenomenon through the ice crystals of the pileus clouds and produces a rainbow effect. The technical term for this incredible array of colors is a circumhorizontal arc.

When these two rare atmospheric sights combined on Tuesday, thousands stopped to stare at the unusual clouds and we received tons of photos into our newsroom.

Don't forget, anytime you see unusual weather happening you can upload it to our "See It on Fox 29" section of our Web site or by finding Kait Parker on Facebook.

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