Hole Punch Clouds, Canal Clouds, and Fallstreak Holes Through History

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
hole punch clouds google images.jpg

Hole Punch Clouds, Canal Clouds, and Fallstreak Holes are all names for an interesting cloud phenomenon where a hole forms in a thin layer of cloud, usually with a streak of cloud falling from the middle of the hole. They are relatively rare (I see them a few times a year, and I watch the sky a lot) but also very photogenic, so a Google image search shows up lots of nice examples, see above.

Hole punch clouds form when a layer of supercooled liquid water cloud is disturbed by something (usually a plane) and this triggers freezing of the droplets, which further disturbs the layer, causing more freezing. The resultant ice crystals are composed of the water from several drops, so are heavier than the surrounding cloud and fall out. This is the "fallstreak" you see in the middle, it's essentially snow.

Generally hole punch clouds are formed by an aircraft passing through the cloud layer, and the angle at which it passes through determines the shape of the hole, the shallower the angle, the longer the hole. When the hole is very long (if a plane happens to be cruising at the same altitude as the cloud, or is just climbing or descending very slowly) then this creates a long hole, sometimes referred to as a "canal cloud". These can be quite long:



I was recently asked on Twitter if these hole punch clouds showed up in old books on clouds
Source: https://twitter.com/FleshnChrome/status/812474808852049920


And of course they do, and I found an example:
Source: https://twitter.com/MickWest/status/813773001862692864


But I thought it might be interesting to look at the history of these holes. They have only been occurring with some frequency in the same timeframe as contrails, since they are largely triggered by airplanes. However they could be triggered by other thing, depending on how ideal the conditions are. Precipitation from higher clouds might do it, even the passage of a bird, or something from below, like a forest fire. So along the lines of similar threads on contrails, or halos and sun dogs, what is the history of observations of hole punch clouds?

The example I posted on Twitter was from 1972, the book Clouds of the World, by Richard Scorer, page 105.
1972 Clouds of the World.jpeg
"glaciation" here essentially means freezing, and "nucleated" refers to the fact that the ice crystals act both as condensation nuclei for water vapor still in the air, and as freezing nuclei for any water droplets they come into contact with. (The above photo is by H. H. Samuelson, and also appears in Scorer's Environmental Aerodynamics, 1978, Page 425)

The 4.3.5 referred to is this interesting example, seemingly of four linked holes. Also predating 1972.
1972 Clouds of the word p63.jpg

A much earlier example comes from the book Cloud Study, A Pictorial Guide. by Scorer, et al, published in 1957

1957 Cloud Study.jpg
And from the same 1957 book on page 79 there's an example of a canal cloud:
1957 cloud study page 79.jpeg

So 1957 is a far back as I can go with books in my collection. They must have occurred before, at least as far back as the 1920s or 1930s although they would have been far more rare. It's also possible they were observed before powered aviation, although I'm not aware of any reports.

A more comprehensive survey was carried out by Peter V. Hobbes in his 1985 article Hole in Clouds: A Case of Scientific Amensia/

20161227-120211-vz4bn.jpg

Hobbes says:
I have the 1943 edition of Clouds, however I can't see what Hobbes might be referring to. However, some of the other Hobbes references are worth following up on.

Update: Here's the 1948 photo by Poulter, PDF attached.
20161227-155947-ogkdp.jpg

20161227-160453-6hsdo.jpg

Braham, R. R. Jr and P. Spyers-Duran, 1967: Survival of cirrus crystals in clear air. J. Appl. Meteor., 6, 1053-1061.
Brunt, D., 1946: Patterns in ice and cloud. Weather, 1, 184-185.
Cave, C. J. P., 1926: Clouds, Cambridge University Press.
Hallett, J. and S. C. Mossop, 1974: Production of secondary ice particles during the riming process. Nature, 249, 26-28.
Hobbs, P. V., 1984: Production of ice crystals. Weatherwise, 37, 119. and N. T. Funk, 1984: Cloud and precipitation studies with a millimeter-wave radar: A pictorial overview. Weather, 39, 334-339.
Johnson, H. M. and R. L. Holle, 1969: Observations and comments on two simultaneous cloud holes over Miami. Bull. Amer. Met. Soc., 50, 157-161.
Ludlam, F. H., 1956: Fall-streak holes. Weather, I I, 89-90.
Mossop, S. C., 1978: The influence ofdrop size distribution on the production of secondary ice particles during graupel growth. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. SOG., 104, 323-330. and
J. Hallett, 1974: Ice crystal concentration in cumulus clouds: influence of the drop spectrum. Science,
Poulter, R. M., 1948: Man-made cirrus? Weather, 3, 232-233.
Radke, L. F. and P. H. Herzegh, 1977: Natural seeding with accompanying release of precipitation. Beit. Phys. Atmosph., 50, 448-495.
Rangno, A. L. and P. V. Hobbs, 1983: Production of ice particles in clouds due to aircraft penetrations. J. Clim. Appl. Meteor., 22, 214-232. , 1984: Further observations of the production of ice particles in clouds by aircraft. J. Clim. Appt. Meteor., 23,
Schumacher, C., 1940: Beobachtungen an einer Altokumulusdecke. 2. angew. Met., 57, 214-220.
Scorer, R., 1964: Fallstreak holes. Weafher, 19, 90-91. , 1972: Cloudr ofthe World, David and Charles Pub. Co., 176 pp.
Simon, A., 1966: Dissipation d’un altocumulus sur le passage d’un avion a reaction. J. Rech. Atmos., 2, 36-38.
Stuart, J. M., 1954: Distrails. Meteor. Mag., 84, 58-59.
Trecarten, L. A., 1961: Fall-streak holes. Weather, 13, 404-406.
Vonnegut, B., 1948: Production of ice crystals by the adiabatic expansion of gas. J. Appl. Phys., 19, 959. , 1985: Nucleation of ice crystals in supercooled clouds caused by passage of an airplane. J. Clim. Appl. Meteor. (in press).
 

Attachments

  • 10.1002@j.1477-8696.1948.tb00922.x.pdf
    432.8 KB · Views: 481
Last edited:

Auldy

Senior Member.
Fantastic and succinct explanation on the phenomenon. I feel like my cloud knowledge has "levelled-up". I'm also wondering if it's worth tracking down my high school geographic sciences teacher to show him this is how you explain clouds in a way that doesn't make your brain melt out of your ears.
 

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
The hole punch cloud is a very visible example of the Bergeron Process, by which most rain in temperate latitudes forms (initially as snow).

I'm not sure how much of the initiation of a hole punch cloud is due to pure agitation and how much is due to aircraft exhaust releasing freezing nuclei that allow heterogenous nucleation of ice crystals, which occurs at higher temperatures than pure water (spontaneous or homogenous nucleation). It's likely a mixture, but I'd suspect that the freezing nuclei play a larger role in most cases.

It has been suggested that the adsorption of sulfuric acid by soot particles also in the exhaust would create strong freezing nuclei (Jensen and Toon, 1994).
 
Last edited:
Thread starter Related Articles Forum Replies Date
occams rusty scissor Fallstreak Cloud with Circumhorizon Arc in Australia Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 16
JFDee New Podcast from NY Times: Rabbit Hole General Discussion 0
C My girlfriend,Jungian Personality Theory and the Rabbit Hole (Dealing with Relationships) Escaping The Rabbit Hole 1
Tim Printy UFO over Jackson Hole, WY Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 4
Mick West Tales From The Rabbit Hole Facebook Group Tales From the Rabbit Hole Podcast 0
Mick West TFTRH #17: Willie - Rabbit Hole Escapee Tales From the Rabbit Hole Podcast 0
Mick West Tales From the Rabbit Hole - A Mick West / Metabunk Podcast Tales From the Rabbit Hole Podcast 20
Rory The Conspiracy Theory Spectrum Practical Debunking 12
Mick West JonExArmy and Escaping the Rabbit Hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 38
HoaxEye My book review and my own rabbit hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 3
Rory My brief flirtation with the rabbit hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 8
Mick West Escaping the Rabbit Hole: Introduction Escaping The Rabbit Hole 21
Mick West What You Can do to Help Promote Escaping the Rabbit Hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 18
Mick West Escaping the Rabbit Hole - Updated Endnotes and References Escaping The Rabbit Hole 0
George Tasker Using pin hole lenses to debunk CGI Rebuttals of Photos of Earth Curvature Flat Earth 7
deirdre Debunked: Lights chasing each other carving holes in clouds (fake video, fallstreak holes) Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 17
Mick West Escaping the Rabbit Hole Book Escaping The Rabbit Hole 23
McGurnicle Why some people fall down the rabbit hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 28
RichT A View From the Rabbit Hole. Practical Debunking 9
izz Does this photo show a too-small hole in the Pentagon? [No] 9/11 28
Supreme Logic Why Do Some Satellites show a "Hole" at the Poles? Hollow Earth? [Inclined Orbit] Conspiracy Theories 22
SquillagusNiggle Trimming the Verge (of the Rabbit Hole) Escaping The Rabbit Hole 19
Mick West Vice: 'It Was Like a Cult': Leaving the World of Online Conspiracy Theories Escaping The Rabbit Hole 4
tinkertailor On Herbalism, Crystals, Bunk and the Rabbit Hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 12
RecoveringCT The Summer of Paranoia by Michael Echon Escaping The Rabbit Hole 18
Bruno D. The 9/11 rabbit hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 16
Mick West Charlie Hebdo Conspiracy Theories - Ignore or Address? Conspiracy Theories 255
Sine metu Metabunk is my new rabbit hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 12
Svartbjørn Massive Hole/Crater in Siberia Science and Pseudoscience 6
Jason How Doing Research can Lead Both In and Out of the Rabbit Hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 55
Alchemist Moving Beyond The Rabbit Hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 7
AluminumTheory Psychological Factors That Lead Me Into the Rabbit Hole Escaping The Rabbit Hole 44
Mick West Paraody of AE911: Free-fall descent proves giant hole, not explosives used! 9/11 62
AluminumTheory My Journey in and out of the Rabbit Hole. Escaping The Rabbit Hole 9
Mick West Blowing out Candles with a Single Punch General Discussion 47
FuzzyUK Theodore White - astrological aspects explain punch up in Ukrainian parliament Science and Pseudoscience 21
M Fast moving object "intersecting clouds" in Hungarian YouTuber's video [Insect] Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 2
I Moon moving "faster" than clouds Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 9
Mendel Debunked: Radar Waves Affect Clouds General Discussion 0
Mick West Bright Light that "goes from the ocean to the clouds" [Plane] Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 1
Mick West Infrared Photos of Clouds and Contrails Images and Videos: Contrails, Skies, and Aviation 17
Marin B Climate scientist on man-made clouds General Discussion 0
Mick West Structures in The gulf Of Mexico Appearing to make Waves in Clouds Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 20
Mick West Criss-Cross Clouds Images and Videos: Contrails, Skies, and Aviation 1
T Help with Photo Of Dark Lines in Clouds needed. Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 5
Mick West A Slightly Square Cloud South of Australia Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 7
ki_cz Contrails 'breaking up' clouds Contrails and Chemtrails 10
Mick West There Are No New Clouds, Just New Latin Classifications Contrails and Chemtrails 2
Trailblazer Identified: linear clouds seen from Virgin Australia flight ['morning glory'] Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 7
Inti Constable oil sketch of clouds from 1822 Images and Videos: Contrails, Skies, and Aviation 3
Related Articles


















































Related Articles

Top