I’m an aviation met observer and have been fascinated with the weather for a while. Our atmosphere, our thin blue line, is truly amazing.
I can’t quite remember when I first came across these megacryometeors but the name instantly caught me, just for its sheer cool soundingness. I set out to find what they were. As it turns out, no one really knows. We know what they are. As the name suggests, they are giant ice balls that fall from the skies, but we don’t know anything about how they form and why they exist.
The image above is only a small example. They look like giant hail stones and they share many compositional properties with hail stones but they form in vastly contrasting ways. Firstly, for a hail stone, you need a nasty, big ass cloud. A monstrous cumulonimbus.
These things are fairly impressive. They come in all sort of shapes and sizes and bring your hail stones, heavy downpours, strong down-drafts and thunderstorms. On occasion maybe a tornado too! But you don’t get megacryometeors in these. Far from it.
Megacryometeors come from this…
Yes. Clear blue sky. Odd huh? But it’s true, these huge chunks of ice form, somehow, high up in the atmosphere, in the clear sky. No one quite knows how they form like this and how they are supported (they can weigh up to a couple of kilograms) but it’s thought strong high level winds can somehow support them during their formation. Some people have said this would take days which is incredible. Others have said they are just ices falling off aircraft, but there have been megacryometeor tales since before the invention of the aircraft.
Whatever they are, I find them truly fascinating. It’s a shame it’s such a rare occurrence, because I’d love to know more. Perhaps over the next couple of years we’ll find out though.
Here are two links with some more information on megacryometeors if you’re interested: