Vibrant ‘Hand of God’ Cloud Formation Appears in Portugal’s Skies
Jan 29 2016 12:00 AM EST
By Anna Norris
Vibrant Hand of God’ Cloud Appears Over Portugal
When locals living on the Portuguese island of Madeira woke up on Monday, they didn’t expect to see something quite so supernatural in the morning sky.
Weather blogger Rogerio Pacheco captured the photo above around 8 a.m. and since then, it’s gone viral.
“For me, the cloud looks like an outstretched hand with a fireball,” Pacheco said. Others have compared it to a flaming comet.
“The cloud formation takes on a breathtaking appearance due to a phenomenon called light scattering,” weather.com meteorologist Quincy Vagell explained. “At sunrise and sunset, light from the sun has to pass through a greater distance across earth’s atmosphere, where the light is scattered. The result is that vibrant colors, such as reds and oranges, are more dominant.”
According to Vagell, the cloud’s shape was created by turbulent swirls of wind in the low to mid levels of the atmosphere.
“Though usually random, occasionally for a brief moment, clouds can take on an appearance of something more profound in this environment,” Vagell said.