13 Most Surprising And Shocking Natural Wonders Of The World
6. Mammatus Clouds
True to their ominous appearance, mammatus clouds are often harbingers of a coming storm or other extreme weather system. Typically composed primarily of ice, they can extend for hundreds of miles in each direction, and individual formations can remain visibly static for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. While they may appear foreboding, they are merely the messengers that appear around, before or even after severe weather.
7. Fire Rainbows
A circumhorizontal fire rainbow arc occurs at a rare confluence of the right time and the right place for the sun and certain clouds. Crystals within the clouds refract light into various visible waves of the light spectrum, but only if they are arrayed correctly relative to the ground below.
Due to the rarity of all these events happening in conjunction with one another, there are relatively few good photos of this phenomenon.
Sinkholes are one of the worlds scariest natural phenomena. Over time, water erodes the soil under the planet’s surface until in some cases, quite suddenly, the land above gives way and collapses into the earth. Many sinkholes occur naturally, while others are the result of human intervention.
Displacing groundwater can open cavities, while broken pipes can erode otherwise stable subterranean sediments. Urban sinkholes, up to hundreds of feet deep, have formed and consumed parts of city blocks, sidewalks and even entire buildings.
Named after peak-hooded New Mexican monks (lower right), penitentes are dazzling naturally-forming ice blades that stick up at sharp angles toward the sun. Rarely found except at high altitudes, they can grow taller than a human and form in vast fields.
As ice melts in particular patterns, valleys formed by initial melts leave mountains in their wake. Strangely, these formations ultimately slow the melting process, as the peaks cast shadows on the deeper surfaces below and allow for winds to blow over the peaks, cooling them.
10. Lenticular Clouds
Ever wonder what the truth about UFOs is? Avoided by traditional pilots but loved by sailplane aviators, lenticular clouds are masses of cloud with strong internal uplift that can drive a motorless flyer to high elevations. Their shape is quite often mistaken for a mysterious flying object, or even as the artificial cover for one.
Generally, lenticular clouds are formed as wind speeds up while moving around a large land object such as a mountain.