Images and videos posted to Twitter and Facebook show a large circular patch in the sky, appearing as if somebody “punched a hole” in the atmosphere.
Sharjah-based astronomer and meteorologist Ebrahim Al Jarwan posted the short video clip on his personal Twitter account and explained that this strange hole in the sky is called a fallstreak hole.
Also known as a hole punch cloud, the fallstreak hole is a large gap, usually circular or elliptical, that can appear in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds. The fallstreak hole was also spotted above Buraimi and Maḩḑah, northwest Oman.
According to the US National Weather Service (NWS), the fallstreak hole is a “combination of amazing and rare cloud formation.” When a hole punch cloud appears, it can form to look like UFOs, sky holes and cloud circles.
According to the NWS website, a fallstreak hole forms when, “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 droplets quickly freeze, grow and start to fall”.
The NWS further added that a hole is then left behind, which will start to expand outward as neighbouring droplets start to freeze.