Sunday Science Tidbit; Iridescent Clouds

Last Thursday, social media blew up about a rare iridescent cloud in Cuba. Many said it was the end of the world. They used #ElCieloExtraño meaning strange sky. In today’s Sunday Science Tidbit we’re going to explore what caused this spectacular spectacle.

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Iridescent clouds are not all that rare but finding a iridescent pileus cloud is not very common at all. Let’s break down those weather words.

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Iridescence is a phenomena where sunlight hits tiny water droplets in a thin cloud. It is typically seen closer to the sun. This is a common phenomena that happened when you blow a soap bubble and see a rainbow of colors on the surface!


Pileus cloud

A pileus cloud is also known as a cap cloud or lenticular cloud (we’ve talked about these before!) Here’s a refresher. Pileus clouds are typically found above a thunderstorm (much like the one in Cuba). You form these clouds by moving the air above a thunderstorm upward creating a wispy looking cloud. These clouds can be thin and if conditions are right… you can get an iridescent pileus cloud.


~ Meteorologist Candice Boling

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{Information and pictures courtesy:,, }

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