FLORIDA -- Many people took notice of a large, dramatic ring around the sun Thursday afternoon and asked us, "What is it?"
- Striking sun halo seen across Central Florida, Tampa area
- Sun halos are not very common in Florida
- Sun halos are harbingers of storm systems on the way
This "ring" is called a sun halo, and it's an atmospheric phenomenon not seen in Florida that often.
The sun halo was caused by clouds that were increasing very high up in the atmosphere. These clouds, called cirrus clouds, contain ice instead of water.
Ice crystals reflect light better than water droplets -- think of a prism in the sky. The ice crystals reflected the light from the sun in a full circle down to the surface, creating the sun halo.
Sun halos are not terribly common in Florida. This is because Florida often lacks the high cirrus clouds necessary to create one, or the cirrus clouds are obscured by clouds lower to the surface.
The halo presented Thursday is just one of many that can be observed. Some noncircular halos include the circumzenithal arc, the upper tangent arc and the Perry arc.
Other halos don't develop around the sun. Sun pillars are vertical towers of light that develop from the sun. Sun dogs are bright spots in the sky that develop away from the sun.
Common weather folklore states that a halo around the sun indicates stormy weather ahead -- and this is often the case.
High cirrus clouds are often the first indication of a storm system approaching the area.
In Thursday's case, it's a signal that deeper moisture is beginning to return to Florida. Although Friday will be dry, rain chances will return for Mother's Day weekend.
So hopefully you enjoyed the sun -- and sun halo -- more clouds and rain showers are likely heading into this weekend.