The Natural Phenomenon In Iowa That Only Happens During Wintertime

Every year, you can tell winter is approaching when Iowa’s sunrises take on a quirky characteristic. As the sun peeks over the horizon, a halo appears, and two other balls of light appear on each side. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that three suns were rising, all at the same time. This phenomenon is called a “sun dog,” and it only happens on the coldest winter days. When the air is extremely cold, ice crystals form in the atmosphere. When they’re small crystals, called diamond dust, and they occur in low cirrus clouds, you get a sun dog and halo effect. The halos appear when the crystals are scattered about, and the sun dogs happen when they crystals are lying with their flat sides down. Now that it’s getting cold out, keep an eye on the skies!

When you catch the next sun dog in Iowa, be sure to submit it to our Iowa Nature Lovers Facebook group! We’d love to see the skies across the state.