Residents in eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, and the New York City metro were treated to an extra special sunrise on Wednesday morning, assuming they were awake before 7am eastern time.
Incoming high clouds were turned into a dazzling display of yellows, oranges and reds as the sun rose on December 15, but it was another interesting phenomenon that caught the eyes of many.
A “fallstreak” hole was front and center in the spectacular December sky, and given the rarity of these clouds, it was the first time that many area residents noticed one, let alone in combination with such a vivid sunrise.
Fallstreak holes, also known as “hole punch clouds” or a “sky punch” show up as a large circular or elliptical gap in a broad area of stratus-type clouds. The water droplets that make up the clouds in an atmosphere like this are super-cooled, meaning that they are well below freezing but have yet to actually freeze. When airplanes fly through this region of super-cooled liquid water, it forces the air to rapidly expand, and subsequently freeze. After the water droplets freeze, they fall toward the ground as light snow or ice crystals.
After the snow or ice crystals fall toward the Earth’s surface, you are left with a large gap in the cloud deck, which is the “hole punch cloud” or the “fallstreak hole.” In the case of December 15, the fallstreak hole garnered just as much attention as the fiery midweek sunrise.
In addition to the daily sunset forecasts, you can get sunrise forecasts for any location around the globe at sunsetwx.com. Our predictions will help to let you know if you need to charge up that camera battery, or set the alarm a little earlier, as it did for Simon Wachholz a few mornings ago.