Hole-punch clouds over SoCal

Hole-punch clouds result from a combination of cold temperatures, air traffic, and atmospheric instability. Conditions were ripe for making them over southern California last weekend.

Hole-punch cloud seen over Santa Ana, California via EarthSky Facebook friend Gloria Sanchez.

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!

Read more about how hole-punch clouds form.

EarthSky Facebook friend Mike Blecher in Marina del Rey told EarthSky: “There was some unsettled weather coming in from the Pacific, and a high cloud cover had this ‘hole’ in it.”

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.

Bottom line: Southern California residents captured many images of hole-punch clouds on Saturday, January 21, 2017. These clouds are made by jets.

Read more: Rare hole punch clouds captivate SoCal residents

Deborah Byrd