Weather is an undeniable and unpredictable force on that can be breathtakingly beautiful one minute and catastrophic the next. Or both. The most powerful and destructive weather events are often the most stunning. From raining spiders in Brazil to giant snowballs washing up on Siberian beaches, weather phenomena can be fascinating, frightening, and sometimes just plain bizarre.
18 Bizarre And Beautiful Weather Phenomena From Around The World
#1 – Red Dawn
Credit: Amber Hooper
On September 23, 2009, people in Sydney, Australia awoke to an unbelievable sight—a sea of red over the whole city. Severe flooding a year earlier was followed by a 3-month drought, which dried the natural red sand and killed the vegetation. Winds up to 60 miles per hour then blew over these dried areas creating this once-in-a-lifetime red dust storm.
#2 – Supercell
Credit: Bob Larson, NOAA / Marco Korosec, NOAA
While supercells are the least common types of thunderstorm, they can be the most dangerous and cause the most damage. These severe rotating thunderstorms can dominate local weather up to 20 miles away and often produce tornadoes, large hail and wind damage.
#3 – Catatumbo Lightning–The Everlasting Lightning Storm
Credit: Cesar sanchez007, Wikipedia Commons
Flashes of lightning of the Catatumbo river region, above Maracaibo Lake in Venezuela, South America, illuminate the night sky continuously in a near-daily thunderstorm. These storms begin nearly every night starting at 7 o’clock and continue for 10-12 hours, over 260 storm days a year. This phenomenon, which earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “highest concentration of lightning” is also known as the Beacon of Maracaibo and the “everlasting storm.”
#4 – Morning Glory
Credit: Osmane P. Ribeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Wikipedia
Morning glory clouds are roll clouds (tubular clouds) and are extremely rare. Very little is known about them, but they appear every fall over the remote town of Burketown, Queensland, Australia, which has fewer than 200 residents. These unique cloud formations can stretch for over 600 miles, and every year, glider pilots flock to Burketown in order fly along the Morning Glory phenomenon.
#5 – Noctilucent Clouds
Credit: Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons
Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds in the atmosphere and are usually too faint to be seen with the naked eye. These clouds, also referred to as “night clouds,” are made entirely of ice crystals and refract, or bend, the light of the sun at dusk just as it sets, making them visible for a few brief, beautiful moments.
#6 – Volcanic Lightning
Credits: Francisco Nagroni / Carlos Gutierrez / NASA, Marcos Fulle
Also known as a “Dirty Thunderstorm,” volcanic lightning occurs when rock, ash, and ice particles released during a volcanic eruption collide with enough frequency to generate an electric charge.
#7 – Penitentes
Penitentes, Spanish for penitent-shaped snow, are peculiar ice and snow formations found only at high altitudes (typically more than 13,000 feet above sea level) where it’s very cold and very dry. These alien-like structures, resembling a crowd of kneeling people doing penance, are found growing all over the Atacama Desert west of the Andes mountains in Argentina and Chile, the driest non-polar desert in the world. They range in size from a few inches to over 16 feet tall.
#8 – Firenado
Credit: Chris Tangey via YouTube
A fire whirl, also known as a “fire devil” or “fire twister,” forms during a brush fire in the Australian outback. This fiery phenomenon is not technically classified as a tornado, but, ranging up to 500 feet in diameter and 1,000 feet in height, these little devils can reach tornado-like intensity. The fire whirl’s core can reach temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
#9 – Rainbow Fire
Credit: Wikipedia Commons, Dehk /
A fire rainbow produces what looks like flames stretched out over the sky in the colors of the rainbow. If you want to impress your friends, you can use the fire rainbow’s proper name, “circumhorizontal arc.” Similar to the formation of ice halos, when the sun passes through high-altitude clouds full of ice, the light refracts and produces a wonderful spectrum of color.