50 Interesting Facts about Rare Weather Phenomena




Lightning can heat the surrounding air to as hot as 50,000°F, three-time hotter than the surface of the sun. As the superheated air cools, it produces a vacuum. This rapid contraction and expansion of the air is what causes thunder.



To see a lunar rainbow or 'moonbow', the moon must not only be full, it also has to be less than 42 degrees in the sky, within 2 to 3 hours before sunrise, and of course, there must be rain falling exactly opposite the moon at that precise moment.

13London Fog

London Fog

The “London Fog” was yellow smog so thick you couldn't see the ground. These "pea soupers" often carried toxic chemicals and one in 1952 killed 4,000 people in 5 days. Due to the Clean Air Act, the last London Fog was in 1962.

14Mega Tsunami

Mega Tsunami

The world’s largest recorded tsunami occurred in Lituya Bay Alaska in 1958. The wave was 516 metres (1720 feet) in height, and taller than the Empire State Building. It was caused by a landslide which was triggered by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake.

1543-day storm

43-day storm

A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to 6 months.



There is rain, snow and then there is graupel, which is also called “soft hail.” It forms when supercooled water droplets are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes, forming small balls of rime.

17Creating rain

Creating rain

The Beijing Weather Modification Office is tasked with creating rain to end the drought, reduce dust storms and prevent unwanted rain, and that between 1995 and 2003, China added 7.4 trillion cubic feet of rainfall artificially.

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18Dust Storms

Dust Storms

Dust storms in Sahara Desert blow dust all the way to Florida, affecting Florida’s climate and air quality.

19Everlasting Lightning Storm

Everlasting Lightning Storm

Over the mouth of the Catatumbo River in Venezuela rages the “Everlasting Lightning Storm.” This area experiences 280 to 3,600 lightning strikes an hour, 300 nights per year. This storm has been a continuous phenomenon for centuries, but the lightning ceased between January and April 2010, apparently due to drought. This raised fears that it might have been extinguished permanently.



If a weather forecast gives a 50% chance of precipitation that could mean there is a 100% chance of rain in 50% of the forecast area. The 'probability of precipitation' number frequently used in weather forecasts is widely misunderstood by the public.


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