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What causes a hole in the clouds?

5 min read

Asked by: Brinson Pritchard

As a plane flies through mid-level clouds, it forces air to expand rapidly and cool. Water droplets in the cloud freeze to ice and then turn to snow as they fall. The gap expands to create spectacular holes in the clouds.

What does a hole in the clouds mean?

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.

What is a gap in the clouds called?

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

What causes holes in the sky?

When an airplane passes through those droplets, they freeze into snowflakes almost instantly and fall out of the cloud. The air at that level in the atmosphere is extremely dry. As the snowflakes fall, they evaporate causing a “hole” to develop in the atmosphere.

Can you make a hole in a cloud?

Doesn't happen too often though yeah. It's called a fall streak or a hole-punch cloud. These holes in the clouds are typically caused by planes flying through the cloud deck.

What is the rarest type of cloud?

Kelvin Helmholtz Waves are perhaps the rarest cloud formation of all. Rumored to be the inspiration for Van Gogh’s masterpiece “Starry Night”, they are incredibly distinctive. They are mainly associated with cirrus, altocumulus, and stratus clouds over 5,000m.

What is it like to skydive through a cloud?

So, what happens if you skydive through a cloud? Well, it could be that nothing happens, or the consequences could be catastrophic. As you probably recall from middle school science, in essence, clouds are condensed water vapor, much like fog. Analogously to fog, within a cloud, visibility is significantly reduced.

How heavy is a cloud?

1.1 million pounds

A 1 cubic kilometer (km3) cloud contains 1 billion cubic meters. Doing the math: 1,000,000,000 x 0.5 = 500,000,000 grams of water droplets in our cloud. That is about 500,000 kilograms or 1.1 million pounds (about 551 tons).

Do altostratus clouds rain?

However, altostratus clouds themselves do not produce significant precipitation at the surface, although sprinkles or occasionally light showers may occur from a thick alto- stratus deck. Altocumulus clouds exhibit “cumulo” type characteristics (see below) in mid levels, i.e., heap-like clouds with convective elements.

Are Fallstreak holes rare?

Fallstreak holes are rather rare, as they are limited to very specific atmospheric conditions and geographical locations. However, they are not naturally occurring – they are man-made!

What is the highest cloud ever recorded?

Astronomers have discovered the largest and oldest mass of water ever detected in the universe — a gigantic, 12-billion-year-old cloud harboring 140 trillion times more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined.

Which cloud would most likely produce drizzle?

Which cloud would most likely produce drizzle? Stratus. The merging of liquid cloud droplets by collision is called: coalescence.

Why do clouds look like waves?

An extremely rare phenomenon, where a cloud produces a billowing wave pattern. They occur when there is a strong vertical shear between two air streams, causing winds to blow faster at the upper level than at the lower levels.

Do scud clouds rotate?

Scud clouds are low lying clouds that are usually below storm clouds. The catch about scud clouds are that they are very wispy and loose. They may look like tornadoes in a sense, but these clouds do not even rotate.

Are wave clouds rare?

They are very unique, and rather rare. Sometimes they are defines, sometimes you can get a whole line of the waves, or just a few. These are called Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds and they are named for two scientists who studied them back in the 1800s.

What are nimbus clouds?

The nimbus clouds are the rain clouds that belong to the category of low-level clouds. The word nimbus in Latin means rainstorm clouds that are found at the lowest altitude of 8000 ft (2400 m), and are usually large grayish-black clouds that cover the entire sky.

What does Strato mean in clouds?


The word stratus comes from the Latin prefix strato-, meaning “layer”. Stratus clouds may produce a light drizzle or a small amount of snow. These clouds are essentially above-ground fog formed either through the lifting of morning fog or through cold air moving at low altitudes over a region.

Do nimbostratus clouds produce hail?

Cumulonimbus clouds and nimbostratus clouds can also can produce snow, hail, sleet, and other forms of precipitation.

How high is a cirrostratus cloud?

20,000 – 43,000 ft

Cirrostratus cloud
Variety Duplicatus Undulatus
Altitude 6,000 – 13,000 m (20,000 – 43,000 ft)
Classification Family A (High-level)
Appearance Thin, transparent, high-altitude layer capable of producing a halo.

Why are clouds white and fluffy?

Clouds are white because light from the Sun is white. As light passes through a cloud, it interacts with the water droplets, which are much bigger than the atmospheric particles that exist in the sky.

How high up are cumulonimbus clouds?

Cumulonimbus clouds are the kings of all clouds, rising from low altitudes to more than 60,000 feet (20,000 meters) above ground level. They grow due to rising air currents called updrafts, with their tops flattening out into an anvil shape.

What appears like a bed sheet with wrinkles?

Cirrostratus appears like a bedsheets with wrinkles.

What does a cirrostratus cloud do?

Usually generated at the forefront of frontal weather systems, the movements of cirrostratus can be used to predict what the weather will do in the next 24 hours. Cirrostratus clouds can also form through contrails, the vapour trails left by planes as they fly through a dry upper troposphere.

Does cirrostratus look like bedsheet with wrinkles?

Cirrostratus are like a bedsheet with wrinkles.

Which type of clouds gives rain?

The prefix “nimbo-” or the suffix “-nimbus” are low-level clouds that have their bases below 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) above the Earth. Clouds that produce rain and snow fall into this category. (“Nimbus” comes from the Latin word for “rain.”) Two examples are the nimbostratus or cumulonimbus clouds.

Which clouds look like group of small waves?

Bottom line: Clouds that look like waves across the sky are known as Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds. These clouds form from winds moving at two different speeds.