Nacreous Clouds

Nacreous Clouds

I bet you’ve never heard of ‘Nacreous Clouds’ which form beautiful shades of pearlescent sky.

On Monday 1 February 2016 the Fylde Coast was in the grip of Storm Henry – the eighth (storm) in what feels like as many weeks, as someone pointed out.

The wind had been blowing all day, and it kept raining on and off. Pretty typical stormy stuff. Then for a brief probably 15 minutes or so at just gone 5pm the sky was just so beautiful – I’ve never seen anything like it.

Nacreous clouds at Cleveleys on 1.2.16

First of all a thick black cloud cleared to reveal strands of sunset with a bright pinky, pearly centre, tinged with pearlescent shimmers. It looked just like the Northern Lights, but apparently wasn’t.

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Have a look at this video clip – it’s very wobbly because standing upright was a challenge – but you can see the gorgeous colours in the sky. Better a wobbly clip and to be able to see it!

Nacreous clouds at Cleveleys 

Ironically, these rare clouds had also been seen on Friday morning on the east coast of Scotland, as reported on the Times website. 

Nacreous clouds form much higher than normal clouds which are usually about 6 miles up – they form high in the stratosphere about 15 miles from ground. They usually form in polar regions in special atmospheric conditions during the cold of winter when temperatures in the stratosphere drop below minus 78C (-108F).

According to the Times article, the stratosphere is also extremely dry, so clouds do not usually form there. In the polar regions, often near mountains, just enough moisture can be lifted up from the lower atmosphere to penetrate the stratosphere, where it is turned into tiny crystals. When the Sun is below the horizon at dawn or sunset, the clouds catch the sunlight and glow with multicoloured patterns.

You have to hand it to the weather here on the Fylde Coast, it’s always providing us with a different view.

Nacreous clouds

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