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Holes in the sky? How cool weather, airplanes create these funny-looking clouds

News 6 meteorologist Jonathan Kegges explains the science behind hole-punch clouds

Hole punch cloud over Longwood

Orlando, Fla- – You may have looked up and noticed some weird clouds early Friday morning in Central Florida. No it wasn’t a UFO, but it does have to do with airplanes.

These unique clouds are known as hole punch clouds or fall streak holes as they are fairly common in the colder the months, but are less common in Florida due to the warmer climate.

Patricia Carter - The Villages

How they form

As you may imagine there is a lot of science when it comes to hole-punch clouds. These clouds are made up of supercooled water droplets. Supercooled water is water that is still liquid even when temperatures are below freezing. This happens because there are no impurities in the water. As soon as something disturbs the water droplets, they freeze instantly. The ice crystals then fall out of the cloud and evaporate making for a completely clear circle in the middle of the cloud.

Hole punch cloud over Disney - Keith Cole

In this case, a plane flying through the clouds disturbed the liquid water, causing instant freezing of the supercooled water droplets. The white streaks are the evaporating ice crystals falling out of the cloud, hence the name fall streak hole.

James Gosselin

You can observe this at home by putting a bottle of distilled water in your freezer. After keeping it in the freezer for an extended period of time, the water inside the bottle will still be liquid. If you hit the bottle on the ground to disturb the water inside, you will see the water instantly freeze inside.


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