'Fallstreak' cloud dazzles Central Virginia skies

Fallstreak cloud dazzles Central Virginia skies
Updated: Dec. 14, 2017 at 9:29 PM EST
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(WWBT) - Many NBC12 viewers spotted a cloud formation in the skies on Thursday night that had many asking: WHAT IS THAT?

The cloud is what is known as a "fallstreak" cloud. They're also called "hole punch clouds."

Click "play" on the video at the top of this story to check out the amazing scenes!

The shadow of the cloud from the setting sun on the clouds above is spectacular.

The National Weather Service explains how the clouds are formed:

High to mid level clouds, such as altocumulus, are often composed of tiny water droplets that are much colder than freezing, but have yet to freeze. These "supercooled" water droplets need a "reason" to freeze, which usually comes in the form of ice crystals. Planes passing through the cloud layer can bring these ice crystals.

Once the ice crystals are introduced, the water droplet quickly freeze, grow and start to fall. A hole is left behind, which will start to expand outward as neighboring droplets start to freeze.

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