A Rainbow Without Rain ~ YES
Is it possible for a rainbow to appear with no rain? Sure it is. This is what Cindy saw on while walking on August 1, 2017, at 7 pm. And it wasn't raining anywhere in the area.
I knew it was hotter than usual because the blacktop road had tar bubbles all over, and when walking by the corn fields I could feel the photosynthesis happening. A few miles later I see a rainbow. I think, wow, it must be raining at my house. As I continue home, I see no evidence of rain anywhere.
...it's possible that it was actually raining without reaching the ground. All we need for a rainbow is sun going through some form of water, even if that doesn't always reach the ground...
Thankfully I took pictures and sent them to Eyewitness News Chief Merotologist Rachael Witter. She was as stunned as I was. She confirmed via radar that there was no rain in my area at the time I took the photos. Here's what she thinks happened.
While we didn't have rain as we all know it Tuesday, it's possible that it was actually raining without reaching the ground. All we need for a rainbow is sun going through some form of water, even if that doesn't always reach the ground. We were pretty dry at the surface so a lot of the rain that tried to get going Tuesday never actually made it to the ground.
Another possibility is what's called a circumhorizontal arc. Those usually form by the sun going through tiny ice crystals in high-based clouds. The sun needs to be high in the sky for that to happen, and it was at the time of the picture (it's the right time of year for that!)
The shape of it makes me think it's more likely the first one...usually, circumhorizontal arcs don't round down as much. The cloud type behind the rainbow leads me to believe it may just be from the rain that didn't make it to the ground. Rain evaporating into the air would make it feel more humid too!
So, it was raining in the atmosphere and not making it to the ground. Very interesting. It was a beautiful rainbow to see, and I'm glad I got to experience it with or without the drizzle.