Sun Dog INSIDE a Hole Punch Cloud

Evening all!

I was looking through some old pictures and I found this beauty. It was taken back in December during my road trip from Boston to Albuquerque. I believe we were driving through upstate New York at the time.

The picture is of a Sun Dog inside a Hole Punch Cloud.

Sun dog inside hole punch cloud

Short story on what’s happening here:

Sun Dog:  Part of a large halo around the sound. The sunlight (and the sun’s position can be seen along the left edge of the photo) is being refracted off the cirrus cloud inside the fallstreak hole (hole punch cloud). Similar to a rainbow but closer to halos you see around the moon.

Hole Punch Cloud:  Also known as a fallstreak hole or canal cloud, they occur inside layers of altocumulus clouds. Inside these clouds are supercooled water droplets, liquid droplets with a temperature that is below freezing. When a plane flies through this layer, the drop in air pressure behind the wings cools the air further and leads to the formation of ice crystals.

Ideal Gas Law: PV=nRT     P = pressure, T = temperature. Drop the pressure of a given mass and volume of gas and the temperature will drop as well.

When ice crystals start to form the surrounding supercooled droplets are pulled in. This is due to the Bergeron Process. What you end up with a lot less ice crystals than you had water droplets, and a lot of empty space around the newly-formed cirrus cloud. This is how a hole punch cloud is formed. Pretty cool I think, and a really interesting picture.

Speaking of pictures, I have plenty of the monsoon rains we see here in Albuquerque. I’m hoping to share them with you all soon.

Til’ next time,



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