Hole punch cloud moves over Miami Valley

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Hole punch cloud seen in the Miami Valley

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

By Brett Collar, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist

Yet another strange cloud passed over the Miami Valley.

A “hole punch cloud” was seen Saturday afternoon near Troy, the day after gravity waves created an odd cloud formation over downtown Dayton on Friday morning.

A hole punch cloud appears when tiny ice crystals form in the cloud deck. These tiny ice crystals are more dense than the air around it, so they appear to fall from the cloud. This is why these clouds are also known as “fall streak clouds.”

With the tiny ice crystals falling, the air surrounding them also falls. Air that sinks generally gives way to clear skies, which is why we see clear skies between the “fall streak cloud” and the other clouds around this formation.

Why do these ice crystals form? Would you believe airplanes are involved? By no coincidence, the Dayton International Airport is not far from the hole punch cloud. Airline jet engines give off condensation, and this condensation oftentimes will leave a trail that looks like a cloud, known as a contrail. The theory is that these contrails (super-cooled water aloft) is what freezes or crystalizes. This is what is believed to be the cause of hole punch clouds.

Image provided by Stan Gheen Photography.

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