Brief and rare 'fogbow' develops Friday morning in Clintwood

Photo Credit: James Deel - Clintwood

This time of year, we're usually posting wonderful pictures of rainbows from across the area. This morning, however, we received a picture of a fogbow in Clintwood, Virginia. This phenomenon is a little more rare, which is why I decided to write about it a little bit.

Rainbows will form when the sun's light is bent twice (once upon entry and once upon exit) when moving through a raindrop. Different colors bend more or less when moving through an object, which is why we see the ROYGBV color scheme in a rainbow. More details can be found in a previous blog post.

In a fogbow, however, the water droplets are much smaller than a raindrop. They're actually too small to reflect or refract (bend) sunlight. Instead, the light is diffracted or spread out - causing the light to clash into a hazy, whitish, grey color.

Similar to a rainbow, the sun is at your back and lighting up the dissipating water droplets.

Next time there's a lot of sunshine and dissipating fog, be sure to look for this colorless rainbow!