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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Sun halo in Tampa spurs curiosity, 911 call

The unusual halo encircling the sun had social media channels buzzing Tuesday.

Sky-gazers across Florida wondered how a rainbow of sorts could form in broad daylight. They tweeted, posted to Facebook and squinted at the sky.

But others feared more sinister forces at work. One caller notified emergency dispatchers at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office about the strange-looking object overhead.

“It's a weird circle up in the sky,'' the woman said. “A round full circle and it's dark in the middle. This has never happened in Tampa, Florida. Please go outside, look up in the sky and look at this weird object.”

The caller, who was at the Net Park bus transfer center, added: “It's never been in the United States of America. It's getting a little bigger and bigger.”

The dispatcher tried to get an address so deputies could respond.

But this event occurred well outside their jurisdiction.

According to the National Weather Service, the halo was caused by sunlight being bent as it passed through ice crystals from high, thin cirrus clouds in the upper atmosphere.

The sunlight was bent twice — once as it entered the ice crystal and again as it exited.

The phenomenon is also called a “22-degree halo,” referring to the angle of the reflection that results in the halo forming around the sun.

It may sound complicated, and lots of folks on Twitter had theories — primarily that it was a precursor to rain. But an understanding of meteorology wasn't needed to just sit back and enjoy the view.

Weather Center