Crazy Weather Phenomena That Will Blow Your Mind!
Rampaging tornadoes, snowstorms in Texas and hailstones almost a foot wide — it’s not just the stuff of sci-fi films. Before everyone had a cell phone camera to record freak environmental meltdowns on film, it was common to believe really outrageous stuff only happened in fiction or in the Bible, but that’s not true.
Whether you blame these bizarre scenarios on angry gods, demonic spirits or the simple power of science, you can now use modern technology to watch Mother Nature shake things up with your own eyes. Check out some crazy weather phenomena that will blow your mind!
Somewhere Over the Tornado
Tornadoes can be fearsome and ferocious, while rainbows are the opposite, bringing hope and happiness. If there wasn't photographic evidence, it would be pretty unbelievable to see two at the same time, wouldn’t it? In March 2017 in Frankfurt, these two extreme weather phenomena — with two very different connotations — occurred simultaneously.
The Year the Pyramids Froze Over
Egypt conjures up images of relentless sun beating down on vast deserts, but it was a different story in 2013. On Friday, December 13 — no, we didn’t make that up — Cairo got hit with some snow for the first time in 112 years, according to reports.
Huge Hail in Hawaii
Thunderstorms are a pretty rare occurrence in Hawaii, but not as rare as hailstones the size of softballs! Nonetheless, giant chunks of ice fell from the sky during a supercell thunderstorm on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, in March 2012.
Tornadoes Strike Twice
On May 8, 2003, an F4 tornado in Oklahoma rampaged across Moore and Oklahoma City. The next evening, three more tornadoes tore through the Oklahoma City metro area, including a massive F3, which tracked from south of Edmond to Luther.
Red Red Rain
When it comes to fantastical weather, nothing sounds more epic than blood-colored rain. Understandably, villagers from Zamora, Spain, were spooked when they saw rusty red rain fall from the skies in the fall of 2014. Interestingly, the incident wasn't the first of its kind. In 2001, residents of Kerala in India were startled by "blood rain," which stained streets and clothing, and a lake in Texas turned eerie blood-red in 2011.
South Florida Snowballs
Snow in the Sunshine State? Surely not! In January 1977, the unbelievable happened. While Florida, particularly Tampa and Miami, is a popular warm weather escape for those who live in cold, northern states, visitors that particular year should have packed scarves instead of sunshades!
Record Breaking Rain
Next time you get annoyed at persistent rain, spare a thought for the residents of La Reunion Island in January 1980. The little island about 500 miles east of Madagascar is used to heavy rainstorms, but Tropical Cyclone Hyacinthe really delivered a battering.
Beware the Bugnado
As probably the closest modern-day version of a plague of locusts, swirls of bugs can actually be caught in cyclones. Although "'bugnados" may not be dangerous — depending on the bugs — they are certainly freaky to see. Simply put, if a cyclone sweeps through a dry area with a large insect population, those insects get caught up in the vortex, and the wind tunnel is filled with bugs.
It's Raining Gloop
When rain was forecast in Oakville, Washington, in 1994, it wasn't unusual news. However, what the locals were not expecting on that August morning was a coating of jelly-like blobs covering a 20-square-mile area in the wake of the rain. Even weirder, the blob rain fell six more times over a period of three weeks.
Ball Lightning: Very Very Frightening
There have been numerous accounts of ball lightning strikes dating back to the early 17th Century — sometimes resulting in gruesome deaths. Earlier studies suggested the phenomenon was merely an illusion caused by the storm's magnetic fields, but the balls have now been captured on camera several times.
Spectacular Sea Vortex
Waterspouts are fairly common sights, but they still inspire awe in witnesses. Although they look like water tornados emanating from the sea, waterspouts aren’t made of seawater but actually consist of cloud water spray. Occurring most commonly in warm waters, they happen when the clouds gather and water condenses, leading to a swirling mass of water droplets.
Twin Tornado Trouble
Warnings of incoming tornadoes easily strike fear into residents, but folks in Pilger, Nebraska, weren’t expecting double the trouble in June 2014. The two Pilger tornadoes formed part of a particularly violent event culminating in 76 tornadoes, four of which were consecutive F4 tornadoes. They tore across the Great Plains killing two people, injuring many others and causing mass devastation.
The Magical Moonbow
Usually, we associate rainbows with emerging sunshine, but these multicolored arcs can also be caused by the light of the moon. This beautiful phenomenon is quite rare because it requires a specific combination of a bright moon that is lighting up rain in a dark sky at less than 42 degrees above the horizon.
The Cinema-Worthy Storm Surge
Remember the movie The Day After Tomorrow, which featured apocalyptic style storms? It wouldn’t be surprising if the writers took inspiration from the epic storms of March 1993, when a storm surge caused rampaging weather conditions throughout the country.
Mighty Mud Storms
When a huge hurricane comes ashore and moves over dry land, it’s frightening stuff. A hurricane's rapidly rotating storm system usually occurs far out at sea, but if it moves inland, moist soil can take the place of warm ocean water, creating what's called the "brown ocean effect."
The Plains: Peak Heat to Plummet
On February 11, 2017, temperatures reached a record high of 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Magnum, Oklahoma, beating a record that had stood for almost 100 years (February 24, 1918). A fire alert was issued due to low humidity and windy conditions, but to the astonishment of locals and scientists alike, the temperature suddenly plunged 60 degrees. By Valentine’s Day, snow was falling on the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma.
Flying into the Eye
While most people want to run away from hurricanes, Hurricane Hunters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) travel right into the eye of the storm to film the conditions. Their specialist planes — Kermit and Miss Piggy — are equipped with impressive four-engine turboprops that make them specifically capable of surviving and studying big storms.
Once again, a supercell storm is responsible for the next crazy weather phenomenon. On April 11, 2012, a thunderstorm caused torrential rain and hail near Dumas, Texas. The sheer volume swamped a shallow gully and turned into an ice mass that piled up into huge drifts of up to 10 feet high.
White Christmas in Texas
Texans may not think there’s much point in dreaming of a white Christmas, but in 2004 the dream came true in the farthest southern parts of the state. Arctic air made its way south and resulted in a covering of snow. It was the first time there was measurable snowfall since 1895 in Brownsville, Texas.
The Night of the Twisters
Remember the frightening sight of two large tornadoes at once? Imagine how scary it must be to experience an astounding seven tornadoes in less than three hours. In and around Grand Island, Nebraska, on June 1980, one of those infamous supercell thunderstorms struck again.
Spare a Thought for Socotra
When it comes to unfortunate weather, the little island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea gets it all. In one particularly eventful season in 2015, Cyclone Chapala battered the island in early November. It made the record books as the farthest south category four cyclone to occur in the Arabian Sea.
The Great American Freeze
Snow in northern parts of the U.S. isn’t an unusual forecast, but in the winter of 2014-2015, all previous records were smashed in Boston and surrounding New England cities. In about 30 days, almost 95 inches of snow — just under 8 feet — fell in Boston, far exceeding the previous record of around 5 feet, set in 1978.
A Record-Breaking Ball
If the news of the Hawaii hailstorm didn't strike you as remarkable, then maybe you’ll be astonished by the size of the hailstones that fell on Les Scott’s lawn during a supercell thunderstorm in July 2010 in Vivian, South Dakota. Amazed, Scott stored some of the colossal ice blocks in his freezer.
Dangerous Dust Storms
When thunderstorms form, winds move around from all directions. When a storm collapses, the wind directions reverse, resulting in a downburst of cold air. This can lead to an astonishing and terrifying sight: a dust storm or haboob.
Nature's Decorative Discs
Perhaps one of the more beautiful weather phenomena on this list, ice circles — also known as ice pans or ice crepes — are naturally occurring discs of ice that rotate on the surface of the water. They appear on outer bends of rivers when the accelerating water creates what's called a "rotational shear."
A Deadly Downpour
The Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the driest places in the world, with the main city of Antofagasta receiving only 0.07 inches of rain a year, at best. So, imagine the chaos that ensued when the city experienced almost an inch of rain in 24 hours in March 2015.
Fire whirls look like something fresh out of hell and occur when wildfires or firestorms generate their own wind. The burning updraft results in tornado-like whirls that can be between 10-50 meters tall.
The Sun and then Some
The phenomenon of "'mock suns" was recorded as early as Ancient Greek and Roman times, with Aristotle noting that the "two mock suns rose with the sun and followed it all through the day until sunset."
A Burst of Storm
Although they might sound harmless enough, microbursts are intense weather phenomena that can cause significant damage, particularly to aircraft. They occur during thunderstorms or rain showers in three distinct stages: the downburst, the outburst and the cushion.
Terrifying Icy Tsunamis
Tsunamis are well known for their sheer destructiveness, so residents in Manitoba, Canada, were justifiably terrified by an icy tsunami approaching in May 2013. Locals described the 9-foot-tall ice wave as pouring over the shore of Lake Dauphin at a rapid pace, where it went on to engulf lakefront homes, damaging 27 in total but thankfully leaving residents unharmed.