Hand of God? Pictures of heavenly cloud formation go viral

© Navegador Mensal
Pictures of a cloud that social media users say looks like the “hand of God” have gone viral after being posted online.

Locals living on the Portuguese island of Madeira were greeted with the unusual cloud formation this week with weather blogger Rogerio Pacheco taking a few snaps of the impressive morning sky.

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Posted by Navegador Mensal on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

“For me, the cloud looks like an outstretched hand with a fireball,” Pacheco told the Weather Channel. “Others have compared it to a flaming comet.”

After posting the picture to his blog and Facebook page, the picture quickly spread on social media, with many users saying they believed it looked like “the hand of God.” 

A type of lenticular cloud, it was the way in which sunlight reflected on the cloud that gave it such an appearance in what experts say is known as “light scattering”. 

“At sunrise and sunset, light from the sun has to pass through a greater distance across earth's atmosphere, where the light is scattered,” meteorologist Quincy Vagel said. “The result is that vibrant colors, such as reds and oranges, are more dominant.”

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Earlier this month, dark clouds gathered above Sydney in Australia after the city was hit by a thunderstorm, resulting in scenes reminiscent of the film Independence Day.