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20 Of The Coolest And Most Surreal Natural Phenomena On Earth

Nature is full of surprises, isn't it? Just when we think we know a lot about nature, it presents some of the strangest phenomena to remind us of how much we haven't explored and how small we are. Prepare to be amazed by these rare natural phenomena!

1. Mammatus Clouds

20 Of The Coolest And Most Surreal Natural Phenomena On Earth_1

Round, bag-like clouds are mammatus clouds that form when the downdraft's cooler air meets the warmer air in the updraft. Such clouds usually occur before a thunderstorm. If you see mammatus clouds, it's best to get inside. 

2. Red Moon

20 Of The Coolest And Most Surreal Natural Phenomena On Earth_2

According to the Book of Joel, the blood moon marks the beginning of the end times. However, the reason behind it is simple: A blood moon occurs during a total lunar eclipse, when Earth passes between the moon and the sun, casting a huge shadow on the moon.

3. Lenticular Clouds

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If you see a UFO floating in the sky, don't panic. It's just lenticular clouds, a natural weather phenomenon that often happens when moist air passes over mountains. Due to the frigid temperatures on the mountain, any moisture in the air condenses into lenticular clouds.

4. White Rainbow

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White rainbows, also known as fog bows, appear in fog, not rain. Because of the tiny droplets that form the fog, the fog bows are usually very faint in color, with a red outer edge and blue inner edge. It is a rare occurrence and has occurred in Montevideo and Yosemite Falls.

5. Penitentes

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Penitentes are snow formations found at high altitudes. They're spiky-looking blades of ice, pointing towards the sun. The name originates from the Holy Week in Spain, during which a field of penitentes wore white, tall, and pointed top for the penance. To see penitentes for yourself, you'll have to climb to 4,000 meters above sea level in the dry Andes Mountains.

6. Waterspouts

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Waterspouts are also known as water tornados, a strong columnar vortex over a body of water. Although they don't have the same destructive power as air tornados, waterspouts with high winds and hail can suck boats into them, and can cause a significant impact on navigation.

7. Supermoon

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A supermoon is a full moon or new moon that almost coincides with its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit. As a result, a supermoon is about 30% brighter than its apogee, which gives the illusion that it is several times larger than normal.

8. Fallstreak Hole

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When you see the drift of transparent gem across the sky, it's actually the fallstreak hole. It is more like a large gap, and it forms when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing, but the water has not frozen yet.

9. Green Flash

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Have you ever seen a sudden green flash above the upper rim of the Sun's disk at sunset? Fear not; this isn't an invasion from outer space. It's because Earth's atmosphere splits the light from the sun into different colors, and it's just that the green flashes are just more common than others.

10. Orange Snow

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In 2018, orange snow fell in Eastern European countries and even Russia. Orange snow is caused by a mix of dust storms and rain and snow in the Sahara Desert. It most recently occurred in southern Europe in early February 2021.

11. Noctilucent Clouds

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Noctilucent clouds with glowing blue lights can be seen during astronomical twilight. They're the highest clouds in Earth's atmosphere and formed by ice crystals. To see these night-shining clouds, you need to go to countries like Finland during summer.

12. Halo

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Halos are often associated with the presence of God. However, it is an optical phenomenon in which sunlight or moonlight interacts with ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. It usually appears near the sun or moon and shows itself in the forms of a light pillar, circular halo, and etc.

13. Sun Pillar

20 Of The Coolest And Most Surreal Natural Phenomena On Earth_13

Here comes another member of the Halo family. The sun pillar is a reflection of light, bouncing off falling ice crystals near the water. When one sees the vertical golden sunlight pillar piercing the sky, it's hard not to think of Helios, the god of the Sun, turning up in his chariot.

14. Supercell

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With its jaw wide open, it is ready to gobble up anything in its path… This is a supercell, a type of thunderstorm with a deep, continually rotating updraft. Although it's rarely seen, a supercell is potentially the most severe thunderstorm. It controls the local weather up to 32 km away and tends to last 2-4 hours.

15. Snow Doughnuts

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Unlike snowballs made by people for fun, snow doughnuts are naturally formed. Large chunks of snow on the mountain are blown to the ground as snow rollers, and since the inner layers are weak and easily blown away, you're left with what looks like doughnuts.

16. Volcanic Lightning

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According to our knowledge, lightning usually comes from clouds. Lightning bursts from a volcanic eruption, however, challenges our common sense. Volcanic lightning is caused by the collision and fragmentation of volcanic ash particles that generate static electricity in volcanic plumes.

17. Freezing Rain

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Freezing rain is a mixture of ice and water that immediately freezes when it collides with an object whose temperature is below 0℃. Severe freezing rain can break trees and power lines, cut off communications, and threaten aircraft safety.

18. Cappuccino Coast

20 Of The Coolest And Most Surreal Natural Phenomena On Earth_18

The brown foam on the beach is not the milk foam in your cappuccino. Cappuccino coasts form when impurities such as algae excreta and chemicals are stirred up by waves, creating bubbles that are pushed ashore. The foam itself is non-toxic, but it can be, if exposed to high concentrations of contaminants.

19. Ball Lightning

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Ball lightning is described as glowing, spherical objects ranging in size from a pea to a few meters in diameter. Although the legend of ball lightning dates back to ancient Greece, there is little scientific literature on the matter. Therefore, the cause of ball lightning remains unexplained even now. 

20. Fire Whirl

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Fire whirl, so-called fire devil or fire tornado, usually consists of flame or volcanic ash. Like a tornado, a fire whirl can suck in debris and flammable gas. A Fire whirl was seen in the 2018 Carr Fire in California and the 2020 Loyalton Fire in California and Nevada.

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