Iridescent clouds? Photos of odd, fiery cloud formations circulate on Facebook

April 16, 2021 - 6:26 PM
Photos of odd-looking clouds in Oriental Mindoro (Youth for Mindoro/Facebook)

Photos of rare red, crown-like cloud formations were captured in Oriental Mindoro and circulated on Facebook last Wednesday, April 14.

The photos were initially posted by youth group Youth for Mindoro.

“Nakunan ng mga netizens sa Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro ang di maipaliwanag na kaganapan sa isang ulap nitong hapon ng Miyerkules, April 14, 2021. Ayon sa mga mga nakakita, isang misteryong liwanag ang nabuo sa itaas ng ulap,” the post read.

The photos showed scenic white clouds with mysterious fire-like features on top, resembling an explosion in the sky or a volcanic eruption from far away.

These were later re-posted by a weather forecasting page called the Philippine Weather System/Pacific Storm Update, which has over one million followers.

“Ang optical phenomenon na ito ay karaniwang nabubuo sa tuwing tinatamaan ng sinag ng araw ang mga ice crystals na nasa mga ulap na siyang nagreresulta naman sa iba’t ibang mga kulay o ang tinatawag na rainbow-effect,” its post read.

This post had since made rounds more than 4,000 times on the social networking site with over 21,000 reactions.


While it’s not yet certain what caused this event, the youth group earlier supposed the sighting as a phenomenon called “cloud iridescence.”

“Ang cloud formation na ito ay hindi na bago dahil may mga recorded events na din kung saan namataan ang ganitong klaseng weather phenomenon sa ibang lugar tulad ng Costa Rica at America,” said the group Youth for Mindoro.

“Ayon sa mga meteorologist, ito ay tinatawag na ‘cloud iridiscence’. Ang makulay na liwanag ay epekto ng refraction ng sinag ng araw sa tubig at yelo na nasa ulap,” it added.

It also attached a link to a 2015 report from ABC News where a similar cloud formation appeared in the skies of Costa Rica.

In the article, a video of the incident was embedded where it showed large clouds emitting pastel-like colors in the sky.

Filipinos once again used their wit and humor as they react to the mysterios cloud formation in the comments sections of both Facebook posts.

There were also comments about religion and other spiritual beliefs. Some shared other scenic photos of skies in their places.

While the definite name for this occurrence is still not certain, iridescent clouds or rainbow clouds do form in many parts of the world and they are rare.

National Geographic said that they happen “when sunlight diffracts off water droplets in the atmosphere. And the recipe for these heavenly sights is actually pretty simple.”

An atmospheric phenomena expert named Les Cowley explained that rainbow clouds often form on very hot and humid days, and in late afternoons.

“What happens is that the cumulus cloud, boiling upwards, pushes the air layers above it higher and higher,” Cowley said.

“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,” he added.

The droplets in the cap then scatter sunlight to form the breathtaking spectacle.