While the multicolored arc known as a rainbow is a common weather event all across North America, a splash of color in the clouds known as a 'fire rainbow' is far rarer. What exactly is a 'fire rainbow,' and why do they occur in places like Colorado?

Read More: This Colorado County is the Tornado Capital of America

According to meteorologists, splashes of color known as fire rainbows are also called halos, sun pillars, and circumhorizontal arcs. They can occur almost anywhere that cirrus or cirrostratus clouds form.

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What's A Fire Rainbow?

Fire Rainbow weather event.
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When a fire rainbow occurs, we see sunlight shining through the ice crystals in clouds. According to the weather channel, the phenomenon is not a traditional rainbow and has nothing to do with fire. As the crystals refract the sunlight, it is seen as different colors which causes the fire rainbow effect. What makes a fire rainbow so rare is that the ice crystals need to be aligned horizontally throughout the cloud to display the color in such a way.

Fire Rainbow in the San Luis Valley

In January of 2024, a stunning fire rainbow appeared near the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Tap this link to see Denver Meteorologist Stacey Donaldson break down this example in a video. This fire rainbow was also captured by Jeremy Daniels, who shared some of his incredible photos here.

Colorado Sundogs

Plural Parhelia weather event.
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Fire rainbows are so rare that we have a better chance of seeing a sundog in Colorado than a fire rainbow. Sundogs are refractions of the sun caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere, which can appear both left and right of the sun.

LOOK: Six Crazy Colorado State Weather Records that Still Stand Today

Colorado is no stranger to extreme weather. What is the warmest temperature you have felt in Colorado? What about the coldest low? From triple-digit temps to sustained snowfall, here are six of Colorado's most impressive weather records waiting to be broken.

Gallery Credit: Wesley Adams

MORE: Mesa County Colorado Has Seen 10 Tornadoes Since 1950

Tornados do happen in western Colorado. While not nearly as often, twisters show up in Mesa County more than anyplace else on the western slope since 1950. Since then, Mesa county has seen 10 documented tornados and several undocumented ones. Scroll on to learn about 10 times tornados touched down in the Grand Valley.

Gallery Credit: Wes Adams

KEEP GOING: Cool Places to Escape Colorado's Hot Temperatures

When summer temps in Colorado become unbearable, there are locations you can go to escape the heat. Most of these locations are high in the mountains, although, that doesn't mean there's nothing to do.

We've researched these locations with an average summer temperature in the mid-80s and below. That doesn't mean the temperatures won't get hotter than this, but it's a good chance you'll feel cooler and find some chill things to do.

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