Lightning struck seemingly in front of a double rainbow in suburban Washington, D.C., yesterday (Aug. 1). All the action was caught on video.
The rare moment happened as thunderstorms moved through the region early Monday morning, reported the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog. The storms hit Fairfax, Va., bringing little rain, but creating a double rainbow as the sunlight poked through the clouds. Lightning appears to cut through the bows in the video.
In order to see a rainbow you'll need two ingredients: sunlight and raindrops. Sunlight is a mixture of colors. When it passes through a glass prism, or drops of water, some of the light is bent, or refracted, more than other portions. Light leaving the prism spreads out into a continuous band of colors called a spectrum. Colors go from red, which is bent least, through orange, yellow, green, and blue all the way to violet, which is bent the most. This is what happens when sunlight passes through water droplets in the atmosphere, with red on the outside of the rainbow arch and violet on the inside.
Sometimes a secondary bow forms outside the primary, giving the look of a double rainbow. The secondary bow forms with the colors reversed: red on the inside, violet on the outside. The secondary rainbow forms at a 51-degree angle from your shadow; it's always fainter and usually disappears more quickly than the primary.