A tourist visiting Ocho Rios, Jamaica captured a rather stunning phenomenon on camera. Heading inside to take cover from an impending storm, Beckie Bone Dunning from Missouri looked to the skies and was greeted with a sight she had never seen before – a rainbow cloud.
Mrs. Dunning posted a photo of what appears to be a ‘fire rainbow’ to The Weather Channel Facebook page, asking other users to explain what she had just seen. “I was in Ocho Rios, Jamaica last week, storm clouds were approaching.. didn’t quite cover the sun yet. I looked up and saw this,” she wrote. “Never seen it before in my life. Can you explain it?”
She added: “I didn’t have a clue what it was. I pointed up and said ‘oh my God look, at the sun!’. Then the guests at the resort all started looking and snapping pictures.”
She received a response from meteorologist Nick Wiltgen, who explained that the effect is produced by a phenomenon known as iridescence. This is caused when light is diffracted by water droplets and ice particles, causing the various wavelengths – each of which is detected by the human eye as a different color – to spread out.
Rainbow clouds often accompany thunderstorms, as the air above the clouds is forced upwards, causing it to expand and cool. As this occurs, moisture in the air condenses, forming a cap-shaped cloud. Colors can then appear around the edges of these clouds as the particles within them diffract the sunlight, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining.”
Another tourist, Edmundo Jenez, said on his recent trip to Jamaica he saw three instances over Kingston also in October at approximately 6 am. “It was a chance occasion, happening fast, it started at 6:01 AM and was gone by 6:04 AM,” Jenez said. A rare beauty — a colourful spectacle, as a dissipating high altitude cloud bends the rays of the rising sun.
Christopher Hill said he, too, was flying over the island in October and captured this stunning shot.
In April, Official White House Photographer by Pete Souza captured this remarkable photo showing President Obama waving goodbye, his hand align with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica.