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Did you see the hole in Tuesday morning’s sky? Here’s what caused it

The magic behind it is liquid water that exists in the atmosphere at or below 32°
This "fallstreak" was seen over Washington County, Tuesday morning.
This "fallstreak" was seen over Washington County, Tuesday morning.(Jennifer Stelzig | Jennifer Stelzig)
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 10:01 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Many Brazos Valley residents were either in awe, surprised, or confused when they saw a hole form in the sky Tuesday morning. The cloud feature that many sent into the PinPoint Weather Center is known as a “fallstreak” or, simply, a “hole punch cloud.”

While they are rarely seen, these are anything but uncommon. In fact, the key atmospheric feature that causes this is due to liquid water that can exist in the atmosphere at or below 32°. Yes! Water that remains liquid at or a few degrees below freezing!

HERE’S WHAT CAUSES A “FALLSTREAK”

  • Pacific moisture reaching the area in the form of high and mid-level clouds
  • That cloud deck is made up of ice crystals and “supercooled” water -- aka liquid water that can exist at or slightly below 32°
  • Once touched, moved, or disrupted, “supercooled” water will rapidly change from a liquid to solid, forming into ice crystals
  • Fallstreaks are typically formed when an airplane punches through this cloud deck made of ice crystal / “supercooled” water
  • Once disrupted the “supercooled” water rapidly forms into ice crystals, which then grow in size, and start to fall.

The picture above was taken by Jennifer Stelzig’s husband in Burton, Texas (Washington County). He noted that the falling ice crystals seemed to be falling in a swirling motion.

Have a picture of Tuesday’s “fallstreak” feature? Share them with the Brazos Valley here.

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