While social media users speculated that an alien-like cloud formation that appeared in UAE skies on March 17 was caused by extra-terrestrial life, meteorologists have provided a scientific explanation for what is called a “fallstreak hole”.
The large, oval hole, which appeared above Al Ain near the border of Oman, is essentially snow that falls from the middle of the cloud.
Fallstreak holes form in mid-to-high level clouds where water is below 0°C, but has not frozen yet, creating supercooled water droplets. Airplanes passing through the cloud layer can cause a change in temperature as the air expands and cools, leading the supercooled water droplets to freeze and form ice crystals that are large enough to fall from the cloud layer in a circular or oval shape.
During the process, the crystals could cause more water droplets around them to freeze. Hence, fallstreak holes in clouds can expand up to 50 km within an hour of appearing.
Photos and videos of the rare sight were circulated on social media on March 17, with one Twitter user stating that the sight looked as though “God has thrown a stone into a lake”, while others claimed the hole had been caused by an alien unidentified flying object (UFO).
Meteorologists claimed that a fallstreak hole had not been seen in UAE skies in over a decade.
This edited article first appeared in Arabian Business.