Costa Rica Cloud Formation Baffles, But Is There A Natural Explanation?

Toni Matthews - Author
By

Sep. 19 2015, Updated 5:49 a.m. ET

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Thousands of people witnessed a bizarre cloud formation in Costa Rica that had some declaring it a sign that the end of the world is near. However, there may be a less-than-supernatural explanation for the rainbow-colored clouds after all.

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According to ABC News, a strange cloud formation appeared on Tuesday afternoon. The clouds seemed like any other until you spotted the circular rainbow shining from the top. The strange sight was reported by citizens and tourists in several cities, including Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. It didn’t take long for images of the amazing event to make their way to social media. Witnesses began posting pictures and video to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. USAToday reports that the sighting trended on Twitter under the hashtag #ElcieloExtraño.

One of the most prominent videos capturing the Costa Rica cloud formation was that of 11-year-old Ariel Joseph Petit. Petit was with his father, Joey, and other family members at a local playground celebrating the nation’s Independence Day. Joey details, “[Ariel] immediately grabbed the camera and started taking video and photos.”

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“We were just so amazed. We had no idea what it was, and we’d never seen anything like it.”

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The above sentiment has echoed across Costa Rica and the Internet. It’s the sort of sighting that many have never experienced before in their lives. As such, there are those who readily reach for a supernatural explanation. Some have even called the cloud formation a sign of the end times.

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As amazing as this rainbow-colored phenomenon looks, there’s actually a scientific explanation. Peggy Lamone, senior scientist emerita at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Teletica News what people witnessed earlier this week is called cloud iridescence.

Cloud iridescence is what happens when clouds have small water droplets or crystals of a similar size individually scattering light. They tend to reflect rainbow-like colors. Cloud iridescence isn’t unlike the “rainbows” spotted in puddles and oil films on the ground, but it’s far less likely to occur in this manner in the sky.

To those who were worried, this isn’t a definite sign that the world is ending, no more than the upcoming blood moon/lunar eclipse. The cloud formation in Costa Rica is merely proof that there are all sorts of natural occurrences that appear weird but are often traced to a non-supernatural source.

What do you think of these images and the “end times” claims? Share comments below!

[Photo by Ariel Joseph Petit/Screenshot via YouTube]

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