10 weird weather phenomena around the world
By Rachel England Friday 08 November 2013
We Brits love talking about the weather. Love it. Come wind, hail or shine, we always manage to drop meteorological mutterings into our everyday conversations, so can you imagine how much we’d have to talk about if our weather was more like these unusual examples from around the world?
Frogs falling from the sky
You know the phrase ‘raining cats and dogs’? It sounds ridiculous but it does have roots in a genuine weather phenomenon: non aqueous rain. This is when non-flying creatures such as frogs and fish literally ‘rain’ down from the sky. Several cases have been reported throughout history, and while scientists have blamed strong winds for such occurrences, their theories aren’t rock solid. So no-one truly knows why this remarkable phenomenon happens. Creepy!
Another inexplicable weather phenomenon, ball lightning is extremely rare. Here, lighting moves in luminous, spherical balls, much slower than normal lightning, sometimes up to eight feet in diameter! It’s usually associated with thunderstorms, with the ball eventually exploding and causing huge amounts of damage. Because of its rarity, there are no scientific explanations for the cause of it.
Think our everyday rain showers are chilly? Think again! Some parts of the world are victim to frequent bouts of freezing rain, which is rain that becomes ‘supercooled’ when surface temperatures are below freezing. As a result it can freeze on impact anything it touches, causing huge hazards on roads and big problems for power lines.
Also known as a whirlwind, a dust devil is pretty frightening to observe but poses far less of a threat than its older brother, the tornado. Dust devils form when there is intense heat on the ground, causing the air above it to rise and spin into a whirlwind, picking up dust, hence its name. A much more dangerous version is the fire devil, which forms over forest fires, pulling up ropes of flame that spin frantically above the blaze.
Formed naturally by strong winds blowing across flat, snow-covered areas, snow rollers look just like bales of hay, albeit a little smaller and frostier!
No, this picture isn’t demonstrating impressive lens flare, but instead shows a genuinely visible ring around the sun. It’s a pretty common phenomenon, occurring when sunlight reflects or refracts off the small ice crystals that make up nearby clouds (usually cirrus or cirrostratus clouds).
You’d be pretty surprised if you opened your curtains one morning and found these marshmallow-like clouds looming in the sky, but you’d have nothing to fear. Mammatus clouds are usually associated with a storm front (particularly thunderstorms), but it’s still not completely understood how they’re formed.
They are hailstones, and then they are giant hailstones. These beasts are sometimes called ice bombs, and rightly so, as they can cause huge amounts of damage as they impact the ground (and any houses, cars or even people caught in the way!). One of the largest hailstones ever to fall was found in South Dakota in the US, measuring a a mighty eight inches in diameter!
Supercells are continuously rotating updrafts within a severe thunderstorm and wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster! They spout huge amounts of rain, hail and wind and often result in tornados and giant hailstones.
Three guesses what these kinds of clouds are often mistaken for. That’s right, UFOs! There’s nothing other-worldly about these, though, as lenticular clouds are usually formed as wind accelerates around large land objects such as mountains.