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A circumhorizontal arc is an optical phenomenon - find out more.

Colourful skies form over Canada in wake of severe storms

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Monday, August 8, 2016, 12:44 PM - Severe storms produced some messy summer weather this past weekend across Canada. However, Mother Nature smiled down in the form of double rainbows and circumhorizontal arcs, an atmospheric phenomena also referred to as "fire rainbows."

Social media lit up with images of the colourful skies. Several residents in southwestern Ontario managed to snap photos of the circumhorizontal arc. It was visible from many places, including the town of Laselle, Windsor and Amherstburg.

RELATED: Skypunch makes appearance in Ontario, social media erupts

"It's actually an ice halo formed by ice crystals in cirrus clouds high in the atmosphere," says Dayna Vettese, The Weather Network manager of meteorological briefing. "The reason why this doesn't look like a halo is because the arc is so large it looks like it's almost parallel to the horizon. These occur when the sun is very high in the sky. As the sunlight passes through the existing ice crystals, the sun ray is split into its individual colours giving it the rainbow effect."

The conditions have to be "just right" for the arcs to appear, Vettese adds.

"The sun must be 58 degree elevation or higher, and there must be cirrus clouds high in the atmosphere with a certain type of ice crystal for this to form."

Meanwhile, after severe storms slammed Nova Scotia, prompting Environment Canada to issue a tornado watch for Sydney and Cape Breton County, a stunning double rainbow formed.

See the spectacular photos our viewers sent to The Weather Network below.

SOURCE: Thumbnail 

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