Five Rarest And Most Startling Atmospheric Phenomenon

There is a prolonged history of mankind looking up into the sky and witnessing something so bizarre that declaring it extraterrestrial was the only option.

These strange atmospheric phenomena would even take the most accomplished weathercaster by surprise. These rare weather anomalies have spawned numerous stories over centuries. Here are some of the rarest and startling weather phenomena for you to check out.


Unlike ‘normal’ lighting, Sprites are known to occur way higher in the atmosphere of the Earth. Sprites occur nearly 50 to 90 kilometers above us and are described as a type of cold plasma discharge that is created over a thundercloud. It is an incredible way of nature to balance out the positive lightning charges released between the ground and the thundercloud.

Fire Tornadoes

Fire tornadoes can be commonly spotted during large-scale wildfires. These are not tornadoes actually, but vortices that suck combustible materials and gases. Fire tornadoes can last more than an hour and the temperature inside can get higher than 1,000 degrees. You may have even spot smaller whirls of fire forming on bonfires sometimes.


This bizarre weather anomaly is thermodynamically identical to a usual thunderstorm, but instead of rain, it snows as a form of precipitation. Thundersnow is usually accompanied by a blizzard or severe winter storm blowing fierce winds above tropical storm force. This strange weather phenomenon reduces visibility under 1⁄4 mile and is further responsible for causing extremely chilly winds that may result in frostbite. Also, there is a greater prospect of thundersnow lightning to possess a positive polarity, which is often associated with massive destructive potential, unlike the usual negatively charged lightning.

Fire Rainbow

Fire rainbows are better known as circumhorizontal arcs. These occur when light passes through high-altitude, wispy cirrus clouds. Fire rainbows are created only when the sun is more than 58° above the horizon and along the mid-latitudes during the summertime. The ideal conditions for the occurrence of fire rainbow require the hexagonal ice crystals forming cirrus clouds to be shaped like thick plates and must have their faces parallel to the ground. Light passing through the ice crystal then refracts creating a prism.

Sun Dog

Sun dog, also known as ‘mock sun’ is nothing but a concentrated patch of sunlight that usually occurs in pairs, 22° to the right or left on either side of the sun when the conditions are ideal. Sun dogs are a kind of halo and can be spotted when cold and high cirrus clouds contain ice crystals that are plate-shaped. These ice crystals act like prisms, refracting the rays of light that pass through with at least a deflection of 22°.

Have you been lucky enough to spot any of these rare atmospheric anomalies?


Satavisha hails from the city of joy, Kolkata. She took up writing as my profession amid the pandemic when the world was at a standstill. Here, she acquired a balance between her passion for writing and sharing various ideas and facts through her stories.
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