Long before super typhoon Hagibis made ground in Japan an eerie phenomenon was noticed by those waiting for the storm.

Instead of grey storm clouds the typhoon arrived in a spectacular purple sky. Pictures captured by sheltering Japanese and international tourists show a sky turned a surreal shade of bubble-gum pink.

The purple "scattering" as it is known is a phenomenon that occurs when heavy rain displaces larger atmospheric particles which absorb light. What remains is a fine spray of particles that act as a prism to rays passing through, particularly at dawn or dusk.

In this case the sky reflected the shorter wavelength colours giving the clouds an unnatural purple hue.

Advertisement

It's not the first time the meteorological event has been observed.

Ahead of last year's Hurricane Michael in Florida, observers in the US described bright pinks reds and purples in the sky.

READ MORE:
Typhoon Hagibis: Death toll in Japan climbs to 42 after storm unleashes widespread flooding
Typhoon Hagibis' trail of destruction: 19 dead and dozens missing
How Super Typhoon Hagibis became a beast, looming over Japan
A weekend in Toyota with Hagibis: A rugby fan's typhoon travel guide

"As sunlight shines down to Earth, most of the colours of the spectrum are able to reach the surface uninterrupted," explained meteorologist Lauren Rautenkranz at the time.
"The light scatters around the moisture in the air, causing the magical purple colour."

More superstitious observers took it as an omen for the approaching storm.

"A beautiful scene, indeed," wrote one. "But beneath it lies a big catastrophe. Pray for Japan, everyone."

By Monday the storm which dumped almost half of the country's average annual rainfall had passed leaving at least 40 dead.

Over 110,000 rescuers joined the effort to reach those affected by the storms.

Advertisement