It’s a Bird?…It’s a Plane…? It’s a Hole-Punch Cloud
A weather phenomenon that is not seen every day had people scratching their head Saturday just south of the LA metro area. It has been coined a hole-punch cloud (or fallstreak hole) because it looks like someone has perfectly punched a hole right into the cloud layer. Obviously a hole puncher couldn’t do this, so how is it formed?
First, for these rare clouds to form there needs to be a thin layer of super cooled altocumulus clouds. Then, most often, a plane will fly through the cloud layer which creates a temperature difference as the air behind the plane will cool rapidly creating ice crystals. Therefore, according to the articles by Westbrook and Davies (2010) the growth of these ice crystals, “depletes the cloud of water vapor, causing the liquid droplets to evaporate and the formation of a hole in the liquid cloud layer with a visible trail of ice crystals falling out beneath.” Essentially, a difference in temperature occurs in the atmosphere that changes the composition of the thin cloud deck in that particular area.
Consider yourself lucky if you ever see one first hand because it is a rarity! Make sure you snap a picture to share with us here at WeatherNationTV!
— Mark Tarello (@mark_tarello) January 22, 2017
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) January 23, 2017
— Maria Caswell (@MariaCaswell1) December 30, 2016
For WeatherNation, Meteorologist Tracey Anthony
Westbrook, Chris; Davies, Owain (July 2010). “Observations of a glaciating hole-punch cloud”. Weather. 65: 176–180.