You might have just encountered the rumor that the presence of green clouds in the sky heralds the approach of a tornado or significant hail. Do tornadoes actually turn the sky green? If yes, then why is this so?
Science proves that a green sky occurs more by chance than for any other cause, and it is not a sign of the weather to come. One theory is that green clouds show up when the sun is about to go down, and the lighting tends to emit red, yellow, and orange tones, much like a sunset. High volumes of precipitation in the clouds may soak up the reddish colors as they are illuminated by that light, giving the sky a greenish tint.
However, a green sky does not indicate a higher chance of a tornado or big hail. But thunderstorms are strong enough to cause a green sky frequently to become violent enough to result in huge hail and sometimes even tornadoes. We will go into more depth about this below, so keep reading.
Is a Tornado Imminent if the Sky is Green?
Although there isn’t a direct link between green skies and tornadoes, it is typical for a green sky to occur before a tornado. Therefore, if the sky over you unexpectedly turns as green as that of the Emerald City, you do not even always need to get ready for catastrophe, but it is strongly advisable that you go in and look at the weather.
Nevertheless, a green sky might appear before, during, or after a tornado, thunderstorm, or another severe weather event. Why is that so?
Let’s first discuss the reasons why the sky is often blue. According to NASA, the atmosphere’s gasses and particulates mirror the sun’s rays in all directions when they enter planet Earth’s environment.
Blue light reflects better than any other color because it moves in shorter time frames, which is why the sky looks blue throughout the day.
Why Does a Tornado’s Sky Become Green?
This section will discuss the various theories about why the sky turns green before a tornado.
According to one idea, some thunderstorms block particular light wavelengths, leaving only green. Computer simulations show that a green hue may be produced by combining the size of water droplets with that of the cloud density. A strong thunderstorm is capable of producing a tornado and contains the ideal amount of precipitation and the proper size of clouds.
The type of storms that could create hail and tornadoes are those with very thick clouds, which are often only present in thunderstorm clouds. A green sky also indicates a very tall cloud, and as thunderclouds are the highest clouds, it is frequently a sign that a tornado or hailstorm is about to develop.
Sunrise and Sunset Blue skies
Some regions, such as sections of Australia and the American Great Plains, are much more vulnerable to tornadoes than most others. In these areas, storms form most frequently in the mid-evening, with tornadoes occurring more frequently during specific months and periods of the day.
Therefore, the interplay seen between the golden to reddish light of sunset and the blue moisture in clouds is the most frequent reason for the green sky.
This phenomenon is also related to the frequent occurrence of red sunsets and airborne water droplets during storms. (Most tornadoes happen around sunset.) Even though tall storm clouds are greatest at reflecting blue light, the moisture in the clouds is quicker at reflecting green light into our eyes than at reflecting the warm hues of the sunset, giving the appearance of a green sky.
When the sun starts to set, the sky turns from blue to warmer hues like red and orange. However, a tremendously thick cloud made of ice and water droplets reflects this sunset light, creating a green sky in the process.
This is how it goes. The sky seems blue throughout the day because blue light scatters and reflects more readily than some other visible colors from off-air molecules. The light lights the sky at an inclination when the sun comes up or sets. Most of the blue light is deflected from the horizon by far more dispersion.
Although the predominant colors at dawn and sunset are red and golden, green light remains visible. A tower of water droplets bounces blue and green light faster than red and orange light, even though you usually can’t see the green.
While a powerful thunderstorm later in the day seems to have the highest potential of creating a green sky, one may still be created around noon with the correct mix of cloud thickness and light.
Light Refracting from Hail
A strong updraft is seen during thunderstorms, which lifts warm, humid air upward and suspends water droplets. Hail can form when water droplets descend, cool, freeze, and gather more drops. Hail and liquid water droplets have distinct optical characteristics. Falling hail may reflect light and appear green if the lighting is just right. The clouds in this landscape look regular, yet the space between the clouds’ bases and the ground appears green.
The hue of the lightning might give the sky a green tint. Since tornadoes frequently include a lot of lightning, they could be lit by it. Lightning appears white when the sky is clear. However, based on the level of dust present in the air, it can seem yellow, orange, or red. Green can be seen in blue clouds when yellow lightning is present.
Not all tornadoes share an identical cloud hue as them. Even if the clouds that produce it seem blue, the tornado can change hue depending on the lighting orientation. Tornadoes in the colors pink, orange, and yellow have each been recorded.
Tornadoes passing over red clay may seem red, whereas those across snow can appear white. All that can be seen in some tornadoes are the debris piles at their bases.
To Sum Up
Water is quite good at bouncing blue light, but under the correct circumstances, it may also reflect green light when the sun is setting. The ideal circumstances might result in the sky turning greenish, depending on the amount of cloud cover, the size of the water droplets, and the hour of the day.
It is important to seek shelter if a storm is seen and the sky seems unnaturally green. There might be a dangerous storm approaching that could bring hail or tornadoes.