A new record was set last Thursday when two scientists in Taiwan recorded a rainbow that lasted an incredible nine hours.
Chou Kun-hsuan and Liu Ching-huang, both professors in the Department of Atmospheric Science at the Chinese Culture University, were observing a rainbow for their studies last week when gradually, they realized that something very unusual was going on. Rainbows typically last much less than an hour, so they were shocked when the colorful phenomenon they were watching so carefully failed to dissipate.
According to Chou, the rainbow started at 6:57 AM and lasted until 3:55 PM, or 8 hours and 58 minutes. If confirmed, this will shatter the previous record set in Wetherby in Yorkshire, United Kingdom on March 14, 1994, which was recorded as lasting from 9 AM to 3 PM, or 6 hours.
Rainbows are a powerful symbol in the Torah, the postdiluvian sign of God’s promise to Noah that He would never again destroy the world through flooding.
When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between Hashem and all living creatures, all flesh that is on earth. Genesis 9:16
Rainbows are so significant that a special blessing is recited upon seeing one.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֶלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם זוֹכֵר הַבְּרִית וְנֶאֱמָן בִּבְרִיתוֹ וְקַיָם בְּמַאֲמָרוֹ
Baruch ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu melech ha’olam zocher ha’brit v’ne’eman bi’vrito v’kayam b’ma’amaro.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to His covenant, and keeps His promise.
It is also significant that rainbows are making unprecedented appearances in these troubled times, Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, a Jewish author and educator, told Breaking Israel News, noting that in the Torah, rainbows are not simply pretty sights to be enjoyed.
“God showed Noah the rainbow right after he destroyed the world,” Rabbi Apisdorf explained. “The contrast between the destruction that had just rained down from heaven and the pretty rainbow God placed in the sky, intermingled with the angry storm clouds, must have been astounding. God was showing Noah that the same source of destruction could also be a source of beauty and healing.”
Rabbi Apisdorf noted that an ephemeral rainbow as an assurance from God was sufficient in Biblical times since only He had apocalyptic capabilities, but in the current volatile political atmosphere, such an unusual and long-lasting prismatic heavenly sign should be understood as bearing a powerful message for man.
“To a certain extent, mankind now has the same globally destructive ability, and there are threats coming from different corners of the world, Iran and North Korea and from other sources we may not even know about, that these destructive powers are going to materialize,” Rabbi Apisdorf said.
“But these rainbows remind us that just as God is the source of destruction and the source of life, the power that lies in man’s hands can destroy can but it can also be used to heal the world.”
The rainbow sighting in Taiwan was even more spectacular than its record-setting status suggests. There were actually four rainbows, including two primary rainbows paired with two accompanying rainbows that faded in and out.
“It was amazing…It felt like a gift from the sky…It’s so rare,” Chou said in an interview with the BBC. The sighting was objectively rare and Chou is looking to apply for the “longest-lasting rainbow” category with Guinness World Records based on video and pictorial footage.
The scientist had a decidedly scientific explanation for the phenomenon. Chou explained that a season monsoon blowing in from the northeast had trapped moisture in the air, thus making the rainbows last for a long time. This moisture formed clouds, light, steady rain and a relatively slow paced wind – all of which are ideal conditions for the appearance of rainbows, reported Taiwan News.