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What Are 'Fire Rainbows'? Colorful Sight Seen In Clouds Over New England

BOSTON (CBS) – There was an unusual sight in the blue skies over New England this week – an apparent rainbow in the clouds.

The National Weather Service noted the presence of what some call "fire rainbows," which are technically circumhorizontal arcs.

"It looks like a rainbow, but it's actually a halo," WBZ-TV's Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher explains. "Essentially you have ice crystals in these high clouds that create these large halos. This particularly variety only happens when the sun is very high in the sky, so around mid-day and mostly in the warm season here in New England."

A woman in New Hampshire captured a particularly vivid fire rainbow at Rye Beach on Wednesday.

fire rainbow rye
A fire rainbow at Rye Beach. (Photo credit: Maria Allegrini)

"A lot of people were seeing them over the past few days," WBZ-TV meteorologist Dave Epstein noted.

WBZ viewer Kathy Diamontopolous she was just walking out to her car Wednesday and was "amazed" at what she saw.

Kathy-Diamontopoulos fire rainbow
A fire rainbow seen by a WBZ viewer. (Photo credit: Kathy Diamontopoulos)

"I don't know why something like this would occur but it's a beautiful sight!" she said.

Viewer Tom Doren also spotted one from Wakefield.

Tom-Doren-Wakefield fire rainbow
A fire rainbow seen from Wakfield (Photo credit: Tom Doren)

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