Contrail shadows, sundogs, and watermelon snow are just a few examples of unique weather phenomena that can occur in Colorado - but have you ever seen rainbow clouds in the sky above?

This kind of magical-looking cloud appeared over Boulder last week, resulting in a beautiful afternoon sky for those who were lucky enough to get a glimpse.

But when could you expect to see rainbow clouds in the skies above your house?


On social media, the City of Boulder explained that what was witnessed in the sky several days ago is actually pretty rare.

Rainbow clouds emerge when small water droplets or ice crystals scatter the sun's light. This is known as diffraction. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, cloud iridescence is relatively rare because a cloud must be thin and also have lots of water droplets or ice crystals of about the same size. The sun's rays only encounter a few droplets at a time.

This phenomenon typically happens in thin clouds or ones that have just formed. It's most common to see in altocumulus, cirrocumulus, lenticular, and cirrus clouds.

Rainbow clouds differ from regular rainbows, which are a result of sunlight passing through raindrops in the sky. However, both are just as beautiful, and just as lucky to see!.

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.

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