20 Amazing and Unusual Weather Phenomena

The science of weather can be a fascinating but there are many flukes and irregularities that occur within the world and here's a list of 20 of the most amazing and unusual of those anomalies.

20. Moon bows

Moon bows

A rainbow was caused by the sun shining and moisture droplets most commonly in a post-rain atmosphere. A moon boat is much rarer as is only seen at night when the moon is low and almost full. A popular place to see moon bows is at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky.

19. Mirages


Mirages occur when light is refracted to produce an image of an object for the sky where it is not. It is most commonly seen on hot services in the pavement or a desert.

18. Halos


Like rainbows, halos are formed around the sun due to moisture being refracted from the sun's rays in the upper atmosphere. Two or more areas of the circle or arc surrounding the sun can be brighter which form what are called Sun Dogs. Halos can also form around the moon and around brighter stars like Venus.

17. Belt of Venus

Belt of Venus

The belt of Venus is a phenomenon that occurs during dusty evenings when a band of pinkish sky will appear around the sky and horizon.

16. Noctilucent Clouds

Noctilucent Clouds

These clouds are atmospheric high clouds that reflect light at dusk when the sun has already set illuminating the sky with no seeming light source.

15. Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

This is known in the southern hemisphere as the Aurora australis and they are charged particles from the sun that have reached the Earth's upper atmosphere and become excited. They are typically seen closer to the polls during the equinoxes of the year.

14. Colored Moons

Colored Moons

Due to different atmospheric issues, the moon occasionally appears tinged with a color such as blue, orange or red. Excess smoke, dust and eclipses can cause the moon to change color.

13. Mammatus Clouds

Mammatus Clouds

These odd shaped clouds are often associated with the storm front, especially involving a thunderstorm.

12. St Elmos Fire

St Elmos Fire

This weather phenomenon is luminous plasma that appears like fire on objects, such as the mass of ships or lightning rods, in an area that is electrically charged during a thunderstorm. This occurrence was named after St. Elmo the patron saint of sailors.

11. Fire Whirls

Fire Whirls

This is a tornado spinning too close to a forest fire or a world created from too much heat in the area.

10. Pyrocumulus Clouds

Pyrocumulus Clouds

This is a heat related phenomenon as these clouds form from the fast and intense heating of an area to create convection, which creates a cumulus cloud. Volcanoes, forest fires, and nuclear explosion are all prime causes of these clouds.

9. Sun Pillars

Sun Pillars

Sun Pillars occur when the setting sun reflects off high, icy clouds at different layers. It creates a pillar of light that reaches into the sky.

8. Diamond Dust

Diamond Dust

This is linked closely to halos and diamond dust is a fog made of frozen droplets.

7. Non-aqueous Rain

Non-aqueous Rain

Rare but real these cases exist of rains of animals instead of water. This is occurred occasionally throughout history and from biblical times to recent history, as meteorologists are still unsure of the cause.

6. Virga


Virga is when ice crystals and clouds fall, but evaporate before hitting the ground. They appear as trails from clouds reaching for the surface, sometimes giving the cloud a jellyfish -like appearance.

5. Katabatic Winds

Katabatic Winds

These are winds that carry dense air from the higher elevation to a lower elevation due to gravity. They are locally known as the Santa Ana winds in California or the Mistral in the Mediterranean, the Bora in the Adriatic Sea, the Oroshi in Japan, the Pitaraq in Greenland and the Williwaw in Tierra Del Fuego.

4. Fire Rainbow

Fire Rainbow

A fire rainbow is an extremely rare phenomenon that occurs when the sun is high allowing its light to pass through high altitude serious clouds with a high content of ice crystals.

3. Green Ray

Green Ray

This is also known as the Green Flash. It occurs very briefly before the sunset and after sunrise. It lasts very briefly for a few moments and is caused by refraction of light in the atmosphere.

2. Ball Lightning

Ball Lightning

This is a very rare phenomenon that involves ball shaped lightning that moves much slower than normal lightning. It can be as large as 8 feet in diameter and cause great damage.

1. Sprite, Jets and Elves


All of these refer to phenomena that occur in the upper atmosphere and regions around thunderstorms. They appear as cones, blows and discharges. They've only been discovered this last century.