Newport News Hole Punch

April 17, 2008

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Provided and copyright by: Glenn Woodell, NASA Langley
Summary authors & editors: Glenn Woodell, Jim Foster 

The photo above shows an elongated hole punch above Newport News, Virginia. It appears as though the fabric of the sky has been ripped open along a seam. These hole punches occur when the cloud droplets, ice crystals or supercooled water droplets composing a cloud are agitated in some way and suddenly fall out. Usually, they form when ice crystals from a higher cloud level fall through a lower, thin cloud layer. Supercooled water droplets in this lower layer freeze as the crystals pass through. This freezing action acts to release heat, called the latent heat of fusion, that then warms the air, causing the surrounding cloud droplets to evaporate. Photo taken in December -- a few years back.