Why Does the Sky Turn Yellow Before a Storm?

According to The Guardian, scientists’ best explanation for why the sky may turn yellow or green before a violent storm is because storm clouds of a specific thickness and water concentration function as a filter for the light that goes through them. Long believed to be an optical illusion rather than an actual colour change, green and yellow clouds have recently been proven to represent a true change in hue.

According to Scientific American, a meteorologist named Frank Gallagher explored this question for his thesis at the University of Oklahoma in 1995. Using a spectrophotometer, a device for measuring the colour and intensity of light, he took measurements of an approaching storm and discovered that the sky’s hue did actually change. Still up for contention is the reason why this occurs. Some scientists believed that the heavy clouds were reflecting the colour of the fields below. However, when Gallagher measured the light against a light green wheat field and again against the red dirt of a freshly ploughed field, he discovered that the colours did not match. The notion that clouds operate as a light filter makes the most sense, but research has not yet established a connection between this phenomena and approaching severe weather. People are advised to seek shelter if the clouds in the sky become an unusual hue of yellow.


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