Sun Dogs and Hurricanes

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  • A halo in the arctic circle, where conditions are much better suited for producing these phenomena; Picture by: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images

  • Sun Dogs and Hurricanes
    10.10.2015 15:39

    It has been a good week for those seeking meteorological phenomena. With the high amounts of cirrus cloud and lack of low level cloud, there have been a few Sun dogs, Halos and Sun Pillars sighted.

    Sun dogs are in essence phantom suns which form either side of the sun on the horizon. A sun pillar is a column of light that extends vertically into the sky and into the ground, usually with the sun low on the horizon and at the base of the pillar. The Halo is a ring of light around the sun and will be one of the most likely things to see. Sometimes a halo can be accompanied by the Circumzenithal arc, which is a half halo coming of the original halo, these, however, are quite rare.

    These phenomena are created by ice crystals, which make up the high cirrus cloud, and the suns rays. The suns rays that meet the ice crystals are refracted. The crystals act like a giant prism in the sky. The varying orientation of the crystal will lead to different phenomena. Sadly the phase of the moon will mean any chances of seeing a night halo will be remote.

    The conditions are currently very good for seeing these phenomena and have been for the last week. This is in part due to the high pressure to the east of the UK, which has kept the weather mainly dry and settled. The other factor is the high amounts of cirrus and Cirrostratus which was the high level outflow from the ex Hurricane Joaquin. As the storm was blocked by the high pressure system currently situated over the UK, it was forced to head towards Spain.

    On Sunday 11th of October these phenomena will only be able to occur in a few places.

    The best chance to view the meteorological phenomena will be in eastern and central England where it will be dry and fine with lots of sunshine. The high cloud looks set to be around at the start and end of the day and it’s at this point that the phenomena will most likely occur. Wales and western England will have a small chance to see any halos etc, as there will be a fair amount of low cloud around. Scotland will be largely cloudy with rain in places, so there is also a minimal chance here. Ireland will have variable cloud and showers in places, mainly in the north but there will be little in the way of high cloud.

    By: John Griffiths