All Weather News

The Rare Hole Punch Cloud

21 Dec 2017, 4:43 pm

They call me the cloud nerd here at WeatherNation.

It’s probably because I spend so much time staring off into the sky during the work day.


Today’s cloud is the fallstreak cloud. Or as you might know it, a hole punch cloud.

If you don’t know what a hole punch or fallstreak cloud is, here is an example:

It is a hole in a deck of clouds, almost looks like someone just cut a hole in the clouds, and often times– put a different cloud inside that hole.

The National Weather Service defines it as a large circular or elliptical gap in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds.

How Fallstreak Clouds Form

Let’s start with the clouds around a “hole punch.”

Alto cumulus or cirrocumulus clouds are made up of tiny little super-cooled water droplets suspended in the atmosphere.

When a foreign object passes through the cloud deck, it changes the chemical composition.
The object passing through the clouds, causes those little super-cooled water droplets to freeze. As the droplets freeze, they stick together, get heavy, and fall from the sky. The falling from the sky leaves a void or hole in the surrounding cloud deck. As the outer droplets continue to freeze and fall from the sky, the hole itself grows.

The most common thing to cause this is actually an airplane! It serves as the perfect vessel to pass through the clouds, freezing the tiny droplets of water.

Now before you go writing chemtrail conspiracy theories, there’s no such thing as chemtrails— they’re called contrails, and just like fallstreak clouds planes cause them but the reason they form is completely natural.

For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo

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