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inversion clouds filling Grand Canyon

The Rarest Weather Phenomena in the World

From glowing lights dancing on the horizon to twice the destruction seen from twin tornadoes, rare weather phenomena have been mystifying humans since the beginning of time.

Indeed, our atmosphere is capable of creating all kinds of beautiful — and destructive — occurrences. But some of these phenomena are incredibly rare.

Have you seen any of these atmospheric anomalies?

Derecho

These widespread, long-lived wind storms are associated with a band of rapidly moving thunderstorms. They can bring hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, heavy rains, and flash floods — making them incredibly destructive. We just recently saw a derecho ravage the Midwest, but these storm systems are actually pretty rare across the mid-Atlantic.

Auroras

We often forget how rare this atmospheric phenomena actually is, because it’s so spectacular that everyone has heard of it. Also known as the Northern Lights or Southern Lights, these fantastic light displays are predominantly seen from high-latitude regions of the Earth.

Thundersnow

thundersnow lightning snow
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This unusual kind of thunderstorm features snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. Thunderstorms form when warm air near the ground rises, but snow forms in the cold of winter. That’s why these storms are so rare — ground temperatures aren’t usually warm while it’s snowing.

Upwards Lightning

Speaking of lightning, it’s part of another rare weather occurrence. While lightning commonly travels from the clouds to the ground, it can actually move in both directions. That means that on a rare occasion, you can see it travel upwards into the clouds.

Asperitas Clouds

asperitas clouds
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These oddly eerie clouds were actually nameless for many years. It wasn’t until 2014 that they officially gained a name and entered the International Cloud Atlas. These clouds tend to be low-lying, and are caused by weather fronts that create undulating waves. The waves make these unusual clouds look almost like draped fabric.

Twin Tornadoes

Tornadoes occur every year around the world, causing destruction along their paths. But twin tornadoes are much more rare — they only occur every ten to twenty years — and cause twice the damage.

Inversion Clouds

inversion clouds filling Grand Canyon
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We often see clouds in the sky, but what about on the ground? Inversion clouds happen when fog rolls in, and eventually forms what looks like a waterfall of clouds. Cold air remains near the ground, and warmer air moves over it, creating the phenomenon. About every ten years or so, large inversions fill up the entire Grand Canyon.

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