Image of cloud in Portugal that looks like hand of God goes viral

By @vitthernandez on
Madeira Strange Cloud
Turbulent circular movement of wind in the low- to mid-levels of the atmosphere created the unusual cloud shape.

A giant fireball in 2015 about to hit Madeira in Portugal was captured by Meteo Madeira, a weather bureau in Portugal. It was sighted on the northern coast of the Portuguese island at sunrise, which is where Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo was born.

On Jan 24, a similar looking lenticular cloud was photographed again. The photo, captured by blogger Rogerio Pacheco at around 8 pm, has gone viral because some residents think it is the hand of God reaching out to them, while others say it looks like a flaming comet.

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Quincy Vagell, meteorologist of, explains, “The cloud formation takes a breathtaking appearance due to a phenomenon called light scattering.” He continues, “At sunrise and sunset, light from the sun has to pass through a greater distance across earth’s atmosphere where the light is scattered. The result is that vibrant colors, such as reds and oranges, are more dominant.”

He adds that turbulent circular movement of wind in the low- to mid-levels of the atmosphere created the unusual cloud shape. But Vagell points out that although such kinds of cloud formation are unusual, “clouds can take on an appearance of something more profound in his environment.”

Despite the explanation of Vagell, many Facebook members still think it is not just a natural phenomenon. Anjeanette Silver, who commented in an Amazing Geologist article, writes, “Looks like the hand of God or when I look closer there is a face.”

Glen Carlson thinks “Sauron is back,” while James David Bell comments, “That’s just the scout midship of the Independence Day (ID4) aliens.”

For Dawn Dessaussols, the cloud has the appearance of a dragon claw catching the fireball before it hits Earth, but for Barbara Kendrick, it’s probably “Gods way of telling us, to bring him back, or get ready!!”

In September 2015, similar cloud formations were seen by residents of Hatillo, Escazu, Pavas and San Jose in Costa Rica which sparked fears of an Apocalypse or end-of-the-world scenario in the South American nations. However, the Costa Rican National Meteorological Institute explained the sighing to the sun rays refracting on water droplets and ice crystals in the cloud that resulted in the highlighted sphere outlines in the sky and bright colour explosions.

Residents of Sydney in Australia also saw dark clouds gather in early January after a thunderstorm hit the city. The images reminded them of scenes from the film "Independence Day," reports Nation.