Escazu, Costa Rica is the buzz online with video from a recent storm that left bystanders looking up while their mouths dropped to the ground. What was seen on September 15, 2015 went viral along with descriptions like ‘End Times’, and ‘UFO’. But what it really was (sorry to burst the bubble), simply high clouds refracting sunlight. That is breaking the lint down into separate colors. Check out this first video, then see more about how this happens below. This was recorded and posted from former North Carolina resident Jessie Montealegre who moved to Costa Rica. So, her description might sound like a local speaking.
How does this happen?
The top of a storm can flatten out when reaching a stable layer at the top of the troposphere. At that point, either cloud droplets or ice crystals depending on the temperature can capture sunlight at the proper angle to do some interesting things. In this case, a colorful display that does not exactly mimic the order of a rainbow. Typically we would see colors ordered from red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. ROY-G-BIV. Iridescent clouds tend to show of pastel colors and can be mixed up in order due to multiple layers of clouds captured and refracting the light differently. This can subconsciously can make you think something is wrong. But it is not. Just a rare view of something natural and beautiful. These usually occur in altocumulus, cirrocumulus and lenticular clouds.
Another video from AJ Lion
Similar coloring comes from Fire Rainbows. They are neither fire or rainbows, but ice crystals in wispy cirrus clouds that can display a rare colorful spread in an otherwise quiet sky.
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