What is a sun dog? Do sun dogs mean bad weather is coming?
Sun dogs are “splotches” of light on one or both sides of the sun, sometimes with the colors of the rainbow. Other names are “false suns” or “mock suns.” A more scientific name is “parhelia.” They are usually seen at a 22-degree angle to the sun. Cirrus clouds, which are made of ice crystals, are generally in the sky to create sun dogs. In very cold air, such as in the polar regions, sun dogs and other kinds of halo can be created by ice crystals floating in the air closer to the ground. The ice crystals bend rays of light coming from the sun by 22 degrees. If the right kind of clouds or ice crystals are on both sides of the sun, you’ll see sun dogs on both sides. Cirrus clouds often move over an area a day or so before a storm arrives. This means that across the middle latitudes, such as in all of the USA except northern Alaska, sun dogs can often be a sign that rain or snow is on the way, but they aren’t always a sure sign. You can find more on sun dogs by going to our Understanding