By Meghan Overdeep
July 01, 2021

A rare phenomenon lit up the skies above eastern North Carolina this week.

A dazzling rainbow cloud, known officially as cloud iridescence, reportedly hovered over the Outer Banks for at least two days.

Cloud iridescence occurs when small water droplets or small ice crystals scatter the sun's light through a process called diffraction. Light bends around the edges of the crystals creating a rainbow effect.

Cloud Iridescence Nags Head
Credit: Quinn Morris

Sightings of the feather-like formation stretched from Point Harbor to Beaufort. Quinn Morris, who was vacationing with his family in Nags Head, managed to snap a few photos.

"One of the more amazing things I've ever seen in person," he wrote alongside pictures of the cloud on Facebook. "Cloud iridescence over the Atlantic Ocean just south of Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head, NC."

WCNC-TV NBC Charlotte Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich told OBX Today that cloud iridescence is a relatively rare occurrence.

"The cloud must be thin and have lots of water droplets or ice crystals all about the same size," Panovich explained.

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze!