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Sun halo spotted in parts of the area on Friday

Photo Credit: Rob Case - Clinch River

On Friday afternoon, a few of you sent pictures to us of a sun halo (as shown just above)!

Pretty neat, right?

So...what makes that happen?

On Friday afternoon, we had plenty of high level cirrus/cirrostratus clouds moving through the area. These clouds are usually found at 20,000 feet or above and can give the sky a milky look to it. These clouds are full of ice crystals, since the air up that high is usually very cold. The sun's light refracts, or bends, off of these ice crystals in such a way that it creates this halo around the sun.

You'll see this happen sometimes around a full moon at night too! The technical term for this phenomenon is a '22-degree halo,' because the ring has a radius of approximately 22 degrees around the sun or moon.

Folklore says that when you see a ring around the sun or moon, that rain or snow is coming. This tends to be observed most in the cool season, when we have more fronts and storm systems passing through the mid-latitudes. As upper level disturbances in the atmosphere get closer, you'll tend to see these higher and thinner clouds moving into the area. Once the system gets closer and closer, the clouds thicken and precipitation starts.

So yes, there are quite a few times when cirrus clouds that produce a sun halo are a precursor to more impactful weather. Now, that's not always the case, but is still an interesting observation.

For us, there is indeed some more inclement weather on the way. For the full forecast, click here.

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