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Virga often appears in streaks or shafts extending from the bottoms of clouds. You often see virga over a desert, where low humidity and high temperatures can cause rain to evaporate shortly after being released by clouds. Or you might see virga at high altitudes; in fact, the precipitation often starts out in the form of ice crystals. Virga is commonly seen in the U.S. West and above the Canadian Prairies, in the Middle East, Australia and North Africa. At some northerly latitudes, too – as in the photos from Sweden on this page – virga sometimes paints the sky above.
The word virga is derived from Latin meaning “twig” or “branch”.
It’s an especially dramatic sight at sunrise or sunset.