Friday, April 29, 2016

Lightning Phenomena

Catatumbo Lightning is a phenomena found in Venezuela mostly at the mouth of the Catatumbo River. This small region receives so many concentrated lightning strikes that it is considered the largest generator of tropospheric ozone. It can happen 160 nights a year, up to 9 hours of continuous lightning each night.

It originates from a mass of storm clouds that create a voltaic arc at more than 5 km of height, during 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and up to 280 times per hour. It occurs over and around Lake Maracaibo, typically over the bog area formed where the Catatumbo River flows into the lake (Wikipedia).

Just when we think we know all about our natural world, there are so many huge mysteries to be found. Lightning has inspired fear and inventions, even horror movie creatures like Frankenstein.

Ball lightning is an atmospheric electrical phenomenon. It travels like a burst of light that is anywhere from pea-sized to a few meters in width and usually associated with lightning storms. Because it is only witnessed by people and not well reported, the nature of ball lightning is a very difficult thing to peg down.

In 1596, it was reported in England by John Stowe, "There entered in at the west window of the church a dark unproportioned thing about the bigness of a football, and went along the wall on the pulpit side; and suddenly it seemed to break with no less sound than if a hundred cannons had been discharged at once; and therewithal came a most violent storm and tempest of lightning and thunder as if the church had been full of fire."

St. Elmo's Fire is plasma from a coronal discharge from a pointed object to the atmosphere.  Sailors often witnessed it, naming it for the patron saint of sailors.  When the air molecules glow from the electrical charge in the atmosphere, it becomes a blue or violet light.

Lightning Glass "fulgurite" is the phenomena when lightning hits sand, like on a beach and bonds the silica and quartz and creates a petrified column of hardened silica/quartz. 

Red jets and blue sprites are a recently found phenomena

These transient luminescent events occur in the upper atmosphere and were only discovered not too long ago by a high flying craft that witnessed them. Sprites occur high above storm clouds as discharges of positive lightning from the ground to the cloud, and were first discovered in 1989. Whereas sprites are associated with actual lightning strikes, jets are not necessarily associated with them.

These phenomena are witnessed by many and research taking place to understand them better. Funny how science can jump in and chase these atmospheric conditions and not the ones that make paranormal phenomena possible to witness, especially when one considers that the very storms that cause these conditions often coincide with the phenomena we see on investigations.

Phenomena--nature's way of saying "you don't know it all yet!"

Lightning Trivia

10,000 forest fires are started every year by lightning

Lightning reaches 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit 

On average, there are 1800 lightning storms occurring somewhere on the globe at any given time

Rubber shoes do not protect from lightning strike damage

Most indoor injuries occur from being on the phone during a strike

The odds of being struck in your lifetime is actually 1 in 3000

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