Hole Punch Cloud Spotted in Canada

News: An unusual cloud formation called a Hole Punch Cloud was spotted over British Columbia.

Published Feb. 24, 2015

Skygazers in British Columbia were treated to a couple of spectacular views courtesy of an unusual cloud formation known as a "hole punch cloud."

According to Global News, the first hole punch cloud, also known as a fallstreak hole, appeared over the lower mainland on the morning of 22 February 2015, and the second appeared over Vernon the following day:

While some people resorted to their own imaginations to explain the strange cloud formations, the National Weather Service reported that fallstreak holes are not created by either UFOs or dragons:

What are they?

A fallstreak hole (also known as a "hole punch cloud") is a large circular or elliptical gap that can appear in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds.

How do they form?

High to mid level clouds, such as altocumulus, are often composed of tiny water droplets that are much colder than freezing, but have yet to freeze. These "supercooled" water droplets need a "reason" to freeze, which usually comes in the form of ice crystals. Planes passing through the cloud layer can bring these ice crystals.

Once the ice crystals are introduced, the water droplet quickly freeze, grow and start to fall. A hole is left behind, which will start to expand outward as neighboring droplets start to freeze.

While the people of British Columbia witnessed two fallstreak holes in one week, these cloud formations are not very common. Fortunately, several observers were able to capture some great photos and videos to document the rare event:

Last updated: 24 February 2015

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