Southern California residents were treated to the sight of strange-looking hole-punch clouds on Saturday, January 21, 2017. Apparently, conditions were right for the holes – which are made by jets – to form. Many caught sight of them and shared their photos with EarthSky Facebook and on Twitter. Hole-punch clouds, also called fallstreak holes, are made via a collaboration between humans and nature. Conditions have to be right within an altocumulus or cirrocumulus cloud layer, in order for the clouds to form.
Then, literally, a jet has to punch through the cloud layer!
— Mark Tarello (@mark_tarello) January 22, 2017
— Theo Marshall (@ImTheoMarshall) January 22, 2017
— YourDailyDish (@Your_Daily_Dish) January 24, 2017
By the way, after a prolonged drought, California is finally getting some rain. No wonder residents were surprised for the sight of the hole-punch clouds, even though they aren’t particularly rare. However, the clouds that make them – although not really rainclouds – can come before a rain. Those who live in California haven’t had much chance in the past few years to see the hole-punch cloud phenomenon.
— AccuWeather (@breakingweather) January 24, 2017
Bottom line: Southern California residents captured many images of hole-punch clouds on Saturday, January 21, 2017. These clouds are made by jets.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.