A meteorologist shared the picture on Facebook and referred to the strange cloud formation as a "hole punch" cloud. Makes sense considering it looks like someone with a very large fist punched a hole in the sky. I'm no meteorologist, but I'm pretty sure that is not what happened. So, what exactly is going on up there?
This type of cloud is known as a fallstreak, also referred to as a "hole punch cloud." The most basic way to describe it is a large circular or elliptical hole in the clouds. If you're looking for a more technical explanation of what, where, and why, we're gonna have to turn to the National Weather Service.
High to mid-level clouds, such as altocumulus, are often composed of tiny water droplets that are much colder than freezing but have yet to freeze. These "supercooled" water droplets need a "reason" to freeze, which usually comes in the form of ice crystals. Planes passing through the cloud layer can bring these ice crystals. Once the ice crystals are introduced, the water droplets quickly freeze, grow and start to fall. A hole is left behind, which will start to expand outward as neighboring droplets start to freeze.
Sounds to me like maybe Chicken Little was right after all - when it comes to hole punch clouds, the sky really is falling.
Well, I guess now you can go ahead and check off "learn something new" on your to-do list for today. Next time you see a hole in the sky, you can impress your friends with this interesting kernel of knowledge.