All Weather News

Rare Triple Rainbow Lights up Alaskan Skies

26 Aug 2014, 6:12 pm


Wait, what? A TRIPLE rainbow? Yes, one was spotted in southern Alaska last week, and a picture was taken last Wednesday capturing one in Anchorage’s northern suburbs, in the Palmer Hay Flats.

Triple rainbows are extremely rare; as of late 2011, only six had been reported in the previous 250 years! But they’re obviously not unheard of; in fact, in 2011, a quadruple rainbow was reported in Germany.

In short, a rainbow is caused by the bending of light as it enters a raindrop, then reflected, spitting out the white light into the ROYGBIV colors you see on a rainbow. As the light bounces around inside a raindrop, it can reflect again, causing a double rainbow. You may notice – including this photo – that each time the rainbow is reflected, the colors are noticeably fainter.

For more on atmospheric optics check out this post from Georgia State University.

For background, your back must be facing the sun and you must be facing rain, of course, in order to see a rainbow (again, light traveling through water).

You may have chances for more rainbows in Alaska over the next few days as much of the southern portions of the state are in between storm fronts, leading to more isolated showers and even a few thunderstorms, leading to perhaps another triple rainbow sighting!


Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

(Picture: Courtesy of Jennifer Dufresne, via the National Weather Service, Anchorage)

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