These are not rainbows

Halo_Ric_FennellPhoto by: Ric Fennell

This is called a 22-degree halo and forms on days with cirrus clouds covering the sky.   (The 22-degrees is the radius around the sun.)  These halos aren’t that rare but occur more often in the northern United States and in colder climates.   Cirrus clouds are made of tiny ice crystals and are 20,000-30,000 feet in the sky.  The crystals refract sunlight and bend the tiny crystals into a circle.

Halo_Clay_Spence_BrookshirePhoto by: Clay Spence, Brookshire

Weather folklore states halos foretell of coming rain, but this isn’t true.  With some weather systems cirrus clouds move in ahead of a warm or cold front, but this isn’t always the case either.  They are almost always mistaken as rainbows circling the sun or moon but aren’t because these halos form on dry days.   Cirrus clouds do not produce rain.  They are a treat to see.


This a rare double 22-degree halo.  Photo by: Emily Gibson


3 Responses

  1. Really interesting weather lesson! 🙂

    • Thanks Eva.

      • YW…

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