A woman visiting Jamaica spotted an incredible rainbow in the sky.
— Times of India (@timesofindia) November 5, 2015
The so-called “rainbow cloud” was captured in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and the tourist posted a photo of it on Facebook in an attempt to figure out what it was.
She wrote: “I was in Ocho Rios, Jamaica last week. Storm clouds were approaching.. didn’t quite cover the sun yet.. I looked up and saw this.. never seen it before in my life. Can you explain it?”
The woman added: “I didn’t have a clue what it was. I pointed up and said “oh my God look, at the sun.”
“Then the guests at the resort all started looking and snapping pictures.”
The cloud is known cloud iridescence, which form at around 18,000 feet. It is made up of small ice crystals. The sun has to be at an altitude of 58 degrees above the horizon so the rays can enter crystals to create the colors of the rainbow. They’re sometimes called “fire rainbows.”
Tourist in Jamaica snaps pic of a Rainbow Cloud. Photo Credit: Beckie Bone Dunning, Missouri pic.twitter.com/hMuLKRbkJ6
— Cruise (@CruiseZ953) November 10, 2015
Atmospheric phenomena expert Les Cowley told National Geographic in 2013 that they often appear in the late afternoon.
— Jan Bakker (@CaribbeJan) November 9, 2015
“What happens is that the cumulus cloud, boiling upwards, pushes the air layers above it higher and higher,” Cowley told the magazine. “As the air gets pushed upwards, it expands and cools. And sometimes moisture in that air suddenly condenses into tiny droplets to form a cap cloud.”