'Fire rainbows' put on show across Midwest

Photo of "fire rainbow" taken by Lisa Foss of Ely, Minnesota, June 4, 2012.

While most of the clouds around here have been of the typical dark and gray variety, in some spots of the Midwest this week, they've been a bit more colorful.

Lisa Foss of Ely, Minnesota saw this brilliant display of what some colloquially term a "fire rainbow" on Monday, while another show popped up in Edgewood, Texas on Saturday.

The rainbows are caused by ice crystals in the thin, distant clouds being at just the correct angle to refract the sunlight into the colors of the prism.

These fire rainbows are rare sights in the mid-latitudes, because they can only occur when the sun is 58 degrees or higher above the horizon. For the United States in general that pretty much relegates any sightings to roughly around 6 weeks either side of the summer solstice. So sure enough we are in prime "fire rainbow" season for the next several weeks.

In fact, it's nearly a year to the day when a photographer in Quilcene, Wash. captured this fire rainbow there.

Here are some more photos by Foss:

And here is the one from Caroline Spence in Edgewood, Texas.

So any time you see those whispy clouds around and you're reasonably close to solar noon (about 1 p.m. or so on Daylight Saving Time) scan the horizons and see if you can catch a glimpse of this beautiful display. (And if you do, I'd love to see it! Email me at the link above)

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