Cold rainbow? Actually, it’s a sundog!

Posted at 12:00 PM, Dec 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-26 12:00:39-05

WEST MICHIGAN- Normally we would expect to see rainbows after a spring or summer rain, not a sunrise over lake effect snow.  I generally don’t go outside very much when I’m here in the weather center, so I was fortunate enough to step outside and see bright colors in the sky.

I know what it is, but I went to school for this stuff.  I’m here to answer questions like Rebecca’s that she posed to the FOX 17 facebook page.

David Sommer also posted this picture to our facebook page as well.  These are known as sundogs.  You may have been fortunate enough to see them earlier this morning as the sun was very low in the sky.

I caught this one earlier this morning as I was fascinated with it when I was driving, so I pulled over and snapped a picture before it disappeared.  Sundogs form when light from the sun is scattered and refracted through the atmosphere.  Often times we see halos form when the higher cirrus clouds are in our skies, but the reason for it this morning is likely due to the lake effect snow that has been ongoing this morning.  The sunlight is refracted horizontally off those low level ice crystals, and that produces the color spectrum in line with the sun’s elevation on the horizon.  Hope you enjoyed seeing it this morning as much as I did!