Breaking News
More () »

Check it out: Rare 'rainbow cloud' spotted over Virginia

Several viewers spotted the weather phenomenon known as cloud iridescence in Hamilton, Virginia.

HAMILTON, Va. — It's safe to say we have all seen a rainbow before. The bright and colorful band that shows up following rain storms can be stunning. Sky watchers in Hamilton, Virginia, were treated to a more unique rainbow phenomenon on Wednesday evening.

Several viewers sent photos and videos of what looked like a rainbow cloud. What our viewers captured is what is known as cloud iridescence. 

Scientists with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained how the iridescence happens in a blog post

"It usually happens in altocumulus, cirrocumulus, lenticular and cirrus clouds. Iridescent clouds happen because of diffraction – a phenomenon that occurs when small water droplets or small ice crystals scatter the sun's light," NOAA said.

NOAA also explained why you may not have seen these rainbow clouds before.

"Cloud iridescence is relatively rare. The cloud must be thin and have lots of water droplets or ice crystals of about the same size. When that happens, the sun's rays encounter just a few droplets at at time. For this reason, semi-transparent clouds or clouds that are just forming are the ones most likely to have iridescence," NOAA said.

RELATED: Why are sunsets so intense after storms in the DC region?

RELATED: 'Best meteor shower of the year' peaks this week, but something else could steal the show

Everyone talks about the weather here in the DMV, but at WUSA9 we want to do more than just talk - we are inviting you to help shape the conversation by joining the WUSA9 Weather Watchers team! Here's how to get involved.

WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.

Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.
Sign up for the Capitol Breach email newsletter, delivering the latest breaking news and a roundup of the investigation into the Capitol Riots on January 6, 2021.

Before You Leave, Check This Out