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  • Writer's pictureSiheli Siyathra

Most Baffling Natural Phenomena of the Past Few Years

In 2018, the legendary Niagara Falls managed to shock everyone to silence. Tourists who came to see the waterfall were astonished to find it frozen. It later turned out that it wasn’t completely frozen; the frozen mist made a crust of ice over the water. The water kept flowing, but it was hidden beneath the ice.

If you’d visited the swamps of North Carolina at the beginning of 2018, the view that met your eyes would have been unbelievable. Imagine ponds filled with ice-cold water and covered in ice. Easy, huh? Now imagine dozens of alligator snouts sticking out of the water, still and frozen. Despite the scary sight, these animals are very much alive. That’s only a unique crocodile way to survive abnormally cold water. Since their nostrils are above the water, they can still breathe while their bodies are in a hibernation-like state. It allows the animals to conserve energy to stay warm.

In March 2018, people looked up at the sky in Northern Nevada saw a most bizarre cloud. It was shaped like a horseshoe! Unless they know the scientific explanation for this phenomenon, it can easily scare the most experienced skywatcher. But it’s really nothing to be afraid of. This phenomenon happens when a flat cloud travels through a rising column of warm air. This air gives the cloud its shape and also adds a spin to its movement.

On March 19 2018, the people of Alabama had to run for their lives from the large chunks of ice falling to the ground. The hailstorm caused millions of dollars worth of damage. After the storm, the place looked as if it had been thoroughly trashed by savages: holes in the roofs, broken windows and trashed billboards. But what made researchers really excited was a hailstone found in the town of Cullman. It was more than 5 inches across and thus setting a new record.

Since we are talking about the most baffling natural phenomena, it would be a crime not to mention snow in a desert! In the winter of 2018, the inhabitants of the Sahara Desert woke up to find snow covering the sand. In some places, the snow came up to 15 inches deep! Meteorologists stated that cold pools of air, combined with precipitation from the most recent rainstorm, resulted in snow.

If a storm holds back your long-planned trip, just relax and be thankful it’s not the Catatumbo. Each year, the heart of the storm appears over Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. And it towers way higher than your regular thunderstorm. The phenomenon lasts up to 160 days and produces more than 300 lightning bolts. They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice. But the Catatumbo doesn’t seem to know that rule!

In 2018, Eastern Europe witnessed an event that was as beautiful as it was spooky. Those who went skiing in Bulgaria, Romania, Russia or Ukraine in late March glided down orange snow. People described the experience as skiing on Mars or gliding down sand dunes. However, this phenomenon has a disappointingly simple explanation. Scientists explain that a sandstorm that had arrived from the Sahara desert stained the snow orange. The storm carried sand, dust and pollen that got between the particles of frozen water. Interestingly, it wasn’t a one-time phenomenon. Meteorologists say that orange snow covers the lands of Eastern Europe at least once every five years.

One of the most common reasons for wildfire is lightning from storms. But have you ever heard of a wildfire that triggered a storm? Well, now you know. It happened on May 11 2018, in Texas. The powerful Mallard Fire not only created a dense cloud but also caused a powerful thunderstorm. The storm later dumped hailstones 60 miles away.

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