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22 Mind-Blowing Rare Natural Phenomena (Photos and Videos)

Noctilucent clouds during summer night.

I admit it, I take a lot for granted.  Especially the millions of daily miracles that happen in nature.  Over the last few years, I’ve grown to really appreciate nature now that I have young kids. 

Young kids find nature awe-inspiring.  My boys can spend hours in the forest or on the beach appreciating the smallest details and creatures.  I love that about kids and fortunately a little of that rubbed off on me.

While all of nature truly is amazing, there are some rare natural moments that you’d be very lucky to see.  We list out many of them below… maybe you’ll get lucky (except for being inside the eye of a tornado – that’s not on everyone’s bucket list).

1. Formation of Lenticular Clouds

Formation of lenticular clouds.

Actually this type of cloud can be found anywhere on Earth, provided the conditions are right for its formation. Lenticular clouds, technically known as altocumulus standing lenticularis, are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes, normally aligned at right-angles to the wind direction.

Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form, creating a formation known as a wave cloud.

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Lenticular clouds have been mistaken for UFOs (or “visual cover” for UFOs) because these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and smooth saucer-like shape. They don’t usually form and only happen under rare conditions. Imagine having the chance to get a glimpse of this amazing cloud formation.

2. Frost Flower

This flower is one of the most beautiful of its kind. It can be found anywhere on a cold morning provided the conditions are right. As beautiful as it is rare, a frost flower is created in autumn or early winter mornings when ice in extremely thin layers is pushed out from the stems of plants or occasionally wood.

This extrusion creates wonderful patterns that curl and fold into gorgeous frozen petioles giving this phenomenon both its name and its appearance. As the temperature gets to freezing or below, the sap in the stem of the plants will expand. As it does so, the outer layer of the stem comes under increasing pressure and microscopically thin cracks, known as linear fissures, begin to form.

These will finally give way under the pressure of the sap and split open. Water is continuously being drawn up the plant’s stem while the ground remains unfrozen. It travels up the plants’ external stem and reaches the split or splits.

As it does so, it oozes slowly out and it freezes. Yet more water is coming behind it. This new water reaches the cracks and it too freezes, pushing the previous slither of ice away from the stem. In this manner, the amazing ‘petals’ that you see in these pictures are formed.

3. Supercell

Supercell cloud formation

Supercells can occur anywhere in the world under the right pre-existing weather conditions, but they are most common in the Great Plains of the United States in an area known as Tornado Alley and in the Tornado Corridor of Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil.

The most threatening and deadliest of all thunderstorms, a supercell is characterized by the presence of a mesocyclone: a deep, persistently rotating updraft. For this reason, these storms are sometimes referred to as rotating thunderstorms. Supercells are often isolated from other thunderstorms and can dominate the local weather up to 32 kilometers (20 mi) away.

Supercells can be any size – large or small, low or high topped. They usually produce copious amounts of hail, torrential rainfall, strong winds, and substantial downbursts. Supercells are one of the few types of clouds that typically spawn tornadoes within the mesocyclone, although only 30% or fewer do so.

A supercell is basically a stronger, more tornado-enabled version of a regular storm cell. This is because—much like tornadoes—supercells have the tendency to spin around a lot, but also—and more importantly—because supercells can actually create tornadoes.

4. Volcanic Lightning

This can happen during volcanic eruptions. A dirty thunderstorm (also known as volcanic lightning) is a weather phenomenon that is related to the production of lightning in a volcanic plume. A famous image of the phenomenon was photographed by Carlos Gutierrez and occurred in Chile above the Chaiten Volcano.

Other instances have been reported above Alaska’s Mount Augustine volcano, and Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Volcanic lightning, researchers hypothesize, is the result of charge-separation. As positively charged ejecta makes it’s way skyward, regions of opposite but separated electrical charges take shape.

A lightning bolt is nature’s way of balancing the charge distribution. The same thing is thought to happen in regular thunderstorms. Smaller eruptions tend to be accompanied by more diminutive storms, which can be difficult to spot through thick clouds of ash. What’s more, lightning activity is highest during the beginning stages of an eruption, making it all the more challenging to capture on film.

5. Fire Rainbow

Fire rainbow

Fire rainbows can only be seen in locations north of 55°N or south of 55°S. Fire rainbows are neither fire, nor rainbows, but are so-called because of their brilliant pastel colors and flame-like appearance.

Technically they are known as a circumhorizontal arc, an ice halo formed by hexagonal, plate-shaped ice crystals in high-level cirrus clouds. The halo is so large that the arc appears parallel to the horizon, hence the name. Brightly colored circumhorizontal arcs occur mostly during the summer and between particular latitudes.

When the sun is very high in the sky, sunlight entering flat, hexagon-shaped ice crystals get split into individual colors just like in a prism. The conditions required to form a “fire rainbow” is very precise; the sun has to be at an elevation of 58° or greater, there must be high altitude cirrus clouds with plate-shaped ice crystals, and sunlight has to enter the ice crystals at a specific angle.

This is why circumhorizontal arc is such a rare phenomenon.

6. Ball Lightning

Ball lightning is an unexplained atmospheric electrical phenomenon. The term refers to reports of luminous, spherical objects which vary in diameter from pea-sized to several meters. It is usually associated with thunderstorms but lasts considerably longer than the split-second flash of a lightning bolt.

Many early reports say that the ball eventually explodes, sometimes with fatal consequences, leaving behind the odor of sulfur. Many scientific hypotheses about ball lightning have been proposed over the centuries. Scientific data on natural ball lightning are scarce, owing to its infrequency and unpredictability.

7. Formation of Desert Roses

Desert Rose

It can happen in any desert under the right rare conditions. Desert rose is the colloquial name given to rose-like formations of crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which include abundant sand grains. The ‘petals’ are crystals flattened on the c crystallographic axis, fanning open in radiating flattened crystal clusters.

The rosette crystal habit tends to occur when the crystals form in arid sandy conditions, such as the evaporation of a shallow salt basin. The crystals form a circular array of flat plates, giving the rock a shape similar to a rose blossom.

Gypsum roses usually have better defined, sharper edges than baryte roses. The ambient sand that is incorporated into the crystal structure, or otherwise encrusts the crystals, varies with the local environment. If iron oxides are present, the rosettes take on a rustic tone.

8. A Fire Tornado

A fire whirl, fire devil or fire tornado, is a rare natural phenomenon that occurs when a fire, combined by certain air temperature and currents, forms a whirl that rises into the air like a tornado. They can be actual whirlwinds that disengage from the flames, or else can become a vortex of flame. The fire whirl usually occurs during bush fires.

9. Sun Dogs

Sun Dogs

They are massive halos in the sky as a result of light refraction—though in this case, they appear to actually encircle the sun. Sun dogs can be recognized by the two distinctive bright spots on either side of the halo—if these blips are bright enough, it can even look like there are three suns in the sky, all side by side.

And the good news is that this happens all the time, all over the world, so you’ll be able to start seeing them if you look closely enough (especially when the sun is low in the sky).

10. Skypunch


A fallstreak hole, also known as a punch hole cloud, is a large circular or elliptical gap, that can appear in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds. Such holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the lack of ice nucleation particles.

When ice crystals do form it will set off a domino effect, due to the Bergeon process, causing the water droplets around the crystals to evaporate: this leaves a large, often circular, hole in the cloud

NOTE: If you’re wondering why clouds sometimes appear pink, check out our article “Why are some Clouds Pink?”

11. Morning Glory Clouds

Morning Glory clouds are very rare types of clouds. They can stretch 1,000 kilometers long and occur at altitudes of up to 2 km. Although similar clouds are seen in many places worldwide, the ones over Burketown, Queensland in Australia occur predictably every spring. These tubes and the surrounding air can cause dangerous turbulence for airplanes when clear.

12. Huge Mammatus Clouds

Huge Mammatus clouds

Mammatus clouds are a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud. They are formed in sinking air contrary to any other form of clouds that are formed in rising air. There are various hypotheses offered behind the mechanism of its formation.

13. Witnessing Halley’s Comet

Halley’s Comet is a periodic comet that orbits around the Sun every 75 years. It is named after astronomer Edmund Halley who first discovered this comet in the year 1531. This comet follows an elliptical orbit. It makes its closest approach to the Sun at 46 million miles and a distant approach of 35 astronomical units.

The comet gets illuminated by the reflection of Sunlight during its journey through the Solar system. The comet becomes visible from various locations on Earth with the naked eye. It has a length of 9 miles and a width of 5 miles and holds mostly icy particles. Halley made its last visit around the Sun in 1986 and will return in 2061.

14. A Great White Thunder Storm

Every 30 Earth years a huge storm formation will occur in the northern hemisphere of Saturn. This rare astronomical event is known as a Great White Thunder Storm. This ammonia-rich cloud formation is caused by strong thunder and lightning. This cloud formation has a length of half of the diameter of Earth.

It is estimated that 10 string lightning will happen every second within the atmosphere of Saturn. These 10000 mile long lightings will vaporize the water contents in the atmosphere of Saturn. Once it becomes condensed the lightning becomes more intense and forms thunderstorms. Great White Thunder Storms are 10000 times stronger than that of storms on Earth.

15. Total Solar Eclipse

Full Solar Eclipse

A solar eclipse can see a number of times in a year. But it is very rare to see a total solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon completely covers the Sun for a short interval of time. It was last recorded in November of 2012. Scientists estimated that it won’t happen again for the next 138 years.

The Moon is 400 timers closer to Sun than the Earth. In that way, during possible orbital conditions, a full solar eclipse will occur. It is scientifically known as ‘umbra’. During that time the Sun’s disc appears to diminish into the Moon crescent.

16. A Leonid Meteor Storm

A Leonid meteor storm occurs when Earth passes through the orbit of comet Tempel-Tuttle. This comet orbits around the Sun every 33 years. The skywatchers can expect 1000 meteors per hour during a Leonid meteor storm. It lasts for more than 15 minutes. This event was first discovered in 1833. It is believed that comet Tempel-Tuttle can produce 100,000 meteors per hour.

17. The Hale-Bopp Comet

Hale-Bopp Comet

This is one of the brightest comets in our space. In fact, it is 1000 times brighter than Halley’s comet. This comet can be observed with the naked eye from Earth. Space scientists estimate that Hale-Bopp comet took 2392 years to orbit around the Sun.

The Hale-Bopp comet was first discovered by American astronomer Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp on the 23rd of July, 1995. The closet approach made by Hale-Bopp comet to the Earth’s surface is 120 million miles. The chances of a closer approach to the planets by the Hale-Bopp comet is very rare as it follows an unusual path.

18. Being Inside the Eye of a Tornado

Most journalists and tornado enthusiasts dream of showing what it is like to be inside the eye of a tornado. This is a very dangerous moment and people might die if they don’t have proper training. A few people have succeeded in being inside the eye of a tornado.

19. Rainbow Eucalyptus

Rainbow eucalyptus tree

This particular rainbow eucalyptus tree is in Maui, Hawaii.

20. Snake Orgy

Snake orgy in Manitoba, Canada. I’m from and live in Canada and had no idea the biggest snake orgy was here (a few provinces over from me).

21. Water Tornado

Water tornado

22. Starling murmuration

Starling murmuration

With all these rare moments and phenomenons one can absolutely say that the Earth is indeed a very mysterious place to live and many factors can cause things to be extremely rare.

Do you have experiences that are very unique? Share them with us!