Weird and wild summer weather phenomena - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Weird and wild summer weather phenomena

(NBC Seattle) (NBC Seattle)

Fire rainbows! Mirages! Summer is more than just heat and humidity for many areas. It's a season that brings some of the weirdest and wildest weather phenomena. Here are five strange summer weather events that you and your family may see this summer!

Fire Rainbows

This rare event looks exactly like its name. Fire rainbows occur when the sun is high enough to shine though really high, wispy cirrus clouds with high ice-crystal content. When the sunlight shines through the ice crystals, the sun creates a refraction-- like a prism-- and makes a rainbow. The wispy clouds create a fire shape out of that. Combining the two together creates the unusual effect, which we call fire rainbows.

Green Rays

If you are with your family enjoying a sunset or sunrise, you may see something else on the horizon if you are lucky enough-- a green ray. A green ray, or flash, appears very briefly on top of a sunrise or sunset just over the horizon. This green flash is caused by refraction, bending the light of the sun which creates a green glow. You may want to keep your eyes open as it only happens for a few seconds!


Has the road in front of you on a hot summer day ever looked wet even though it wasn't raining? This phenomena is called a mirage. Refraction causes a lot of unusual things in our atmosphere. Refraction bends light on the surface to create an image that isn't there. For example, a hot and dry surface can look wet, all because of the bending of the light in the distance. Sometimes mirages can even cause images to look upside down!

Sun dogs

Guess what R- word causes this rare atmospheric event? Refraction! (see a theme here?) Most likely when the sun is low in the sky, the sun may appear to have a halo around it. This phenomenon is caused by light bending because of moisture or ice crystals in the atmosphere around the sun, and can be distinguished by two bright spots around it.

Ball Lightning

This is probably the most rare on our list. It may look like a rip in space-time continuum but it is a rare form of what we typically see in thunderstorms. This lightning is ball-shaped which moves much lower and lasts longer than cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. It can produce much more damage, and it has reportedly destroyed an entire building before. What occurs can mimic an explosion and can leave behind the slight smell of sulfur.

With the atmosphere constantly moving, changing and evolving, mysterious, sometimes dangerous, and sometimes beautiful weather phenomenon can be viewed in almost every season. What's your favorite rarity to catch in the summer?

Meteorologist Andrew Kozak and Meteorologist Intern Adam Bowles

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