The Virtual Times: Unusual Experiences with Lightning
Subject: Ball Lightning
Date: April 4, 2007
From: Wes Price
Written by: Wesley .M. Price, age of 9 (sorry for improper spelling).
Date: April 4, 2007
Lightning spotted: April 3, 2007 11:13 P.M
Okay so I and my Dad were up watching Napoleon dynamite when suddenly,
A“reddish-orangey light illuminated the room, I immediately went to the bathroom, the safest
room in the house, my Dad freaked out a bit too (not as much as I did, though.)
He thought that some thing exploded in our front yard (like a gas can, etc.).
Then, (after I was out of the bathroom) My Mom came in wondering what the heck was going on.
She said she smelt something, my dad said it was popcorn but I read some reports this morning to
reveal it was OZONE, we explained everything to her and then she came over to our kitchen
And saw that her picture was on the floor in front of our big window in
The kitchen the lightning hit the ground so hard that the shockwave knocked down the
Picture from the nails it was hanging on! I’m still getting over the phenomenon that happened
last night but for now I have to go
NOTE: A lightning ball is a super charged lightning bolt/plasma phenomenon if you EVER touch one
it will probable burn strait through your hand. So please be careful!
< ed.: here is a folow up note from Wes: >
There was no lightning around the immediate area, because the storm had passed about an hour before.
The storm that had come through did have a lot of lightning and lot of dime sized hail, too. I think
it was ball lightning that just exploded in our yard, or something like that.
Subject: Ball Lightning -- my experience
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 11:10:10 -0400
From: C. Conrad
I was doing a search on ball lightning and saw your email address as one who is interested in
personal accounts of this phenomena.
It was probably about 15 years ago that I had an encounter. I was in the 1.5-car garage attached
to my house just outside Charlotte, NC. The large garage door was open, as was a side entry door
(located near the back wall of the 21-foot garage). There was the “storm feeling” in the air
(storm would subsequently begin in about 20 minutes), and the sky was darkening nearby.
I was in the back of the garage, puttering with something, and I turned around to face the
large open door (I don’t recall what made me turn to look, whether a noise, or perhaps
totally by chance). What I saw startled me, but as I look back on it, I was surprisingly calm
and “scientific” about it. There was a ball of cracking light drifting in through the large
open door. About the size of a grapefruit, but I don’t recall thinking of it as having color.
Rather, it reminded me of those glass balls of static electricity that people touch to make their
hair stand on end. It was just a bunch of static light staying in the shape of a ball. I recall
a bit of “hissing”, perhaps crackling, but not very loud. I also recall an odor – ozone, perhaps.
The ball merely drifted, staying about 5 feet from the surface level. When I replay it in
my mind, I believe that it “paused” for a moment about midway in the garage, before continuing
its drift out the open side door. I would estimate it took 3 to 4 seconds on this 19-foot
path through the garage, and came within 3 feet of my face at its closest point. I was walking,
but not briskly (and not removing my eyes from the ball) towards my house door during this time.
I have no idea where the ball went afterwards, and I did not hear any explosions or strikes.
The storm, as I said, started about 20 minutes later.
It was an interesting experience, and I always wondered if it would have injured/killed me had it
come in contact.
Subject: Ball lightning
Date: 10/29/2003 2:13 AM
I was walking my dog about 4 doors down the street from my house on top of one of the higher hills
in Seattle (Queen Anne) around 10:30 at night. It was autumn and quite overcast, with some wind -
felt like a storm was blowing in, but I saw no lightning (this could have been because of the 4 story
building across the street that was between me and a view of the incoming clouds, but lightning is
rather unusual in Seattle). It was not raining, and as I recall, was actually quite dry out (somewhat
unusual for Seattle in autumn). My roommate was with me and corroborated what I saw.
We'd just passed under a tall tree and were approaching a street corner, with street light, when all
of a sudden a glowing white basketball-sized light entered our field of view. It looked as if it had
just suddenly appeared out of thin air about 45-50 feet up, though it was falling when we first caught
sight of it. It dropped towards us at a steep angle, floating like the remnants of a large firework do
as they fall to the ground. It was completely silent, and moved fairly quickly. I remember thinking it
was going to hit my dog - who was about 8 feet in front of me, when it impacted a wire running from
the street light to another pole across the street. This was at a height of 12-14 feet and a distance
of maybe 18-20 feet, point to point, from me. It hiss/fizzle/crackled loudly as it hit the wire, there
was a brief, fairly bright flash simultaneous with the sound, and it disappeared.
I was a little stunned trying to process what I'd seen. Finally my roommate said, "Did you see that?"
She said it must be ball lightening. We did not notice any particular scent of ozone (it was windy,
though) and there was no obvious effect on the lighting of either the street light or the house nearest
us. When we returned home shortly thereafter (all three of us, including the dog, were eager to get back
to the "safety" of the house), neither of our husbands had noticed any effect on the house power - they
were in fact still playing the same computer game they'd been playing when we'd left.
Now it gets weirder. I saw the exact same thing in the exact same place not 2 months later. It was about
the same time of evening, and fairly similar weather, though I don't recall it being stormy - just very
overcast with some light wind. It was fairly dry, though, which was even more unusual for Seattle that
time of year. This time it was just me and the dog out walking, and the dog had the sense to move towards
me to try to dodge it. It did not appear to follow him that time, but rather floated almost straight down
until it hit the street. I do not recall it crackling on impact that time, and the light explosion was
much reduced; it didn't really do much more than "wink out." Seems like I felt a little electricity run
through me when it impacted the ground, but that could just have been the heebie-jeebies . I do recall
that, once again, the dog suddenly became eager to return home.
I lived there another year and a half and never saw it again, but I somehow suspect the set up of that
particular street-corner is particularly conducive to the formation of such balls. (I no longer live in
that neighborhood or I'd still be keeping a look out).
< Ed. questioned when this occurred, here's the response: >
Sorry about the year - I should at least have thought to add that after reading the other reports.
< chagrined look > Let's see - that would have definitely been 1999.
I don't remember the dates, but after further reflection and trying to corroborate my event-driven
memories with hazy recollections of the calendar that year, I think I have the months down:
Seems like the first sighting occurred in late October, close to Halloween. The second really seems
like it was shortly *after* the Y2K scare, though - which would put it early-to-mid-January of 2000 (I
definitely remember I considered it to be winter-time when the second one occurred). So I guess they
were actually a bit over 2 months apart (seemed like they were closer to 7-8 weeks apart in my memory
My mom saw ball lightening "roll across the prairie" once when she was a little girl in Central Texas.
She's pushing 70, so I don't know if her memory of a 60-odd year old event is still detailed enough to
make a write-up worthwhile, but I'll ask her when I am home Christmas and send you whatever she can
remember, if it's more than the once sentence wonder I started out with in this paragraph.
Subject: seen aurora boralis type elecric enter forming
cloud turned neo pink in crosville, tn
Date: Mon, Oct 28, 2002 23:23:09 EST
it happend i think winter 95 or 96 it was about 11;30 at night i went out to stretch my legs
and looked up it apeared to be a lite blue too purple disturbance high in the midnight
clear sky i watched it for several minits its stay like it played around like trendals way up
in the sky it was transparent i had never seen this in crossville tennessee befor it was
nearing christmas i hadnt noticed a cloud but aparently a moderate sized one had materialized
sort of low too the ground maybe only 1200 to 1800 feet up and within one sixteenth of a mile
off or closer i thoug at on point to be above a pond about 100 ft. away aparently this
borealis type of electric drained into this forming cloud and it began too glow pink with a
neon like glow i would say the cloud looked to be about one sixteenth of a mile wide the pink
cloud was glowing from inside itself and i watched it for about 10 minits and went in and
got my mother to see it but when she returned it had disipitated fainter and in anouther minit
it appeared too turn into a whiter fainter subdewed glow and slowly disipitated in about 2
more minits later that winter my aunt who lived next to our farm took leaukemia i hav offten
wonderd if that cloud had caused it i hav never mentioned it too outhers but while living at
the same address two time light appeared too flash inside the house in every room at once the
first time it was an orange flash of light and the second time proubably a year later if
flashed in all the rooms again but a white light both time were for an instat and no noise
wash noticed especially but the orange light was the weirdest light in ll rooms at the same
time signed joel
Subject: To Whom it May Concern,Re: Expected Metaphysical Observation
Date: Mon, 27 May 2002 13:25:26 -0700 (PDT)
To Whom it May Concern,
Re: Expected Metaphysical Observation.
This is a detailed description of what my 15 years old Brother, and 22 years old sister saw on
May, 27th, 2002.
11:00 pm local, 9:00 pm GMT
Ahmed Maher Ghoniem (Male) 15 years old high school student, very brilliant, a Computer freak,
very well educated, and known with good manners.
Hadeel Maher Ghoniem (Female) 22 years old, in her last year of Dentist school, stable person
who never had interests in Metaphysics.
While Hadeel and Ahmed were studying for their Finals in their mutual room, Ahmed first heard
a strange peeping, (Hadeel could not confirm hearing the peeping on this stage.). Suddenly
Hadeel saw a very fast object she described as a Ball of White Light, passing in front (almost
inside) of the balcony that was opened. She asked Ahmed if he saw that.
He jumped to the balcony to see what he described as:
Solid object has a while silver color covered with white light (he described the light a very
fine beams covering the ball), when he saw it was 30cm away from him, he said that the object
was turning in very hard angle and its speed was depressed in this turn movement, then it
accelerated again, and suddenly disappeared and it passed him by 1 meter, he said that he
thought that it accelerated to the extent that his eye could not follow.
Ahmed added, that once the object was opposite to his body, he felt the Air moving and his eye
start tearing, and his body was in a light shock (he gave a very specific description about
his shock feeling, he compared it to his feeling when he drink a cretin flue remedy!).
The peeping lasted 5 seconds after the disappearance of the object, Hadeel confirmed hearing
the peeping this time. Ahmed said that the object was not the source of the peeping.
So when the told me I recalled the several observation of what is known as "Light Balls" as I
have deep interests in metaphysics, both Hadeel and Ahmed never heard of this expression or
any of the stories related to it.
Feel free to contact me for any further information.
Al-Hitham Maher Ghoniem
In response to follow-up questions by the Editor:
1. Detail of the local weather conditions at the time - temperature, wind, cloud cover, etc.
According to local forecasts:
Temperature (0C / 0F) 23 / 73
Relative Humidity 67 %
Wind Speed (mph) 12 (NE)
Pressure (mB) 1013, Rising
2. General environment - city, country, trees, high rises, etc.
City: Cairo, Country: Egypt.
The Flat is above tree level, there are surrounding trees.
3. Proximity to high energy sources - high tension lines or transformers, air field,
military base, industrial facility
It is a living neighborhood, just the normal Electrical resource, no factories, or military
4. Any other details that may be pertinent
It was clear weather, no rains, no thunder.
Subject: Ball Lighting sighting
Date: 6/9/2001 11:45 AM
I've been reading the accounts of ball lighting sightings,
(http://hsv.com/weather/unusual/) and have been struck by the startling
similarity to an event in my past. My family was seated at our kitchen
table for diner, back in Pennsylvania, during which a vicious thunderstorm
arose. Suddenly, my mother grew quite agitated, staring out the window as if
something suddenly grabbed her attention. She was pointing, shouting something
about balls of fire outside. My father, sister, and myself looked, but couldn't
see anything, though perhaps we were not looking in the right place. I remember
at the time I was looking for balls of significant size, and didn't see anything
like that. Neither my father or sister saw anything either. My mother grew
increasingly excited, standing up and insisting that she was seeing something,
at that very second. About 10 seconds later, she declared that the balls had
disappeared. Once the commotion settled, she gave the details of what she saw.
There were several balls, each roughly the size of a large marble. (Hence the
reason why the rest of us didn't see anything...we were scanning the yard looking
for balls the size of beach-balls or whatnot). They were a fiery-orange color, and
were "rolling around" at the base of a large cedar tree...the largest tree in our
yard. They continued rolling around the whole time she watched, before winking out.
I examined the patch of ground later, and couldn't find any sign of fire or lighting.
However, I knew she saw something, and not just a glimpse, but a sustained event,
given her rising irritation and excitement when she tried drawing my family's attention
to the balls, and realizing that we were not seeing them too. Ever since this event,
I have been rather interested in learning more about ball lighting.
Subject: ball lighting
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 18:01:18 EDT
From: Michael D.
Very interesting thank you. I've never seen ball lightning but
have heard of it. I have something different to tell you!
I live in pittsburgh Pa. and sometimes don't sleep well. This one particular
night I awoke at 3:15 a.m. and had to use the bathroom. It was raining with
thunder and lightning. So I lit up a cigarette and was watching the lightning
from an upstairs window, when a lightning bolt traved horizontally from one
cloud to another. When It hit the second cloud it was like it hit something in
the cloud and shattered into maybe 10 to 15 separate pieces. The pieces were
short and started to desend then they just disappeared.
thanks Michael D.
Subject: ball lightning encounter
Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2001 01:29:18 EST
Several years ago, I was traveling in a car, sitting in the front passenger
seat. My uncle was driving and we were accompanied by my brother who was
sitting in the back seat.
I noticed that my uncle was looking at something out of the driver's window,
yellow in color and floating at about 30 degrees from the horizontal. It
seemed to be about 1/4 of a mile away. To me it resembled a 100 watt light
bulb reflected in a pane of glass. I remember him saying something like "what
is that?" and I remember myself responding "its the dome light of the car
reflected in the glass of your window." He then rolled down his window and
explained to me that the dome light was not on while the light object still
This light object was completely motionless. however, it was moving steadily
but slowly in a vertical path. This object did not demonstrate any of the
characteristics of a released helium ballon. Released helium ballons move and
dance around in the slightest of breezes. it was very steady almost
motionless except for its slow vertical ascent.
This object was yellow-orange in color, pear shaped, with the large end up
and was semi-transluscent with faint edges. the oddest thing of all is that
it was completely split into two halves with an apparent visible gap right
down the center. The split ran along the long axis of the shape or from the
ground up to the sky. Based on the distance and perspective it must have been
about the size of a 50 gallon drum.
We pulled over, stopped and watched it .after about one or two minutes it
vanished without any residue, trace or sound.
I will remember this encounter for the rest of my life and wonder if I will
ever be lucky enough to witness something like this again. It must have been
ball lightning based on other reports and accounts I have seen.
j. w. m.
Subject: Ball Lightning?
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 17:49:32 -0900
From: Dennis Anderson
My name is Dennis Anderson. I am a photographer and live in Alaska. I specialize in
photographing the Aurora Borealis. I have extensive contact with the public and hear a lot of
aurora stories. Yesterday I heard a second-hand account that was unlike any other I have
A gentleman described a phenomenon that he said was witnessed by several personell
stationed at an oil rig on the North Slope (Of Alaska) probably near Prudhoe Bay. It was
witnessed during intense auroral activity and described as "hissing crackling balls of
reddish-orange light that bounced and rolled along the ground and then rose straight up and
I have many times listened to accounts from people who mistakenly think the aurora is
touching the ground (from reflections off the ice and snow and lack of perspective) but I feel
this account was very much different from these reports. It made me think that it could be
Thunderstorms are very rare on the North Slope. There just isn't enough energy to get
convection going. But it seems possible that the aurora could induce the electrical energy in
a similar fashion to thunder storms. There is a mention of rare accounts of St Elmo's Fire
associated with the aurora in Niel Davis' "The Aurora Observer's Handbook". Many witnesses to
hissing and crackling noises associated with the aurora are well documented but this
phenomenon also remains a mystery. Perhaps ball lightning and auroral sounds have common
After reading more on ball lightning, I think it would be interesting to further question
this witness and to also question the other witnesses if this is possible.
Have you ever run across any other accounts of ball lightning asociated with aurora?
Thank you for any Info and interest.
Subject: Ball Lightening or St. Elmo's Fire
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 13:10:08 -0800
From: Audrey Rohde
I am adding our story because it has a similarity but some bits of it are
very different. On a December evening (very late -in fact it was very early
Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2000 morning between 5:00 and 6:00 AM)in San Diego we were
having a incredibly warm and dry Santa Ana condition. In fact, on this
particular evening it was really just blowing in from the desert and we were
having sort of a warm wind storm. My daughter called out to me from her bed
because their was a loud noise coming from outside her room which woke her
up and scared her. Awaken out of a sound sleep, I came running down the
hall quickly to check on her and saw in the living room which I passed
before I reached her room in the corner what I thought was a fire in the
corner of the room. I thought our home had caught fire and called out to my
husband several times to come quickly as I was frozen with fear. It was
near the front living room window and was making very, very loud cracking
noises that could be compared to an automatic weapon firing several rounds
of ammunition. It was off the ground and seemed like a fire with shades of
red and light in it. It was the size of a small bush and hung there for 15
seconds. By the time my husband joined me it had stopped so he wasn't able
to see it, though he did hear it. He checked the nearby electrical socket
and checked the wall where I told him it was at and there was no sign of
fire, heat or smoke. Afterward, we both sat there and just waited to see if
it would happen again. Through the window we observed a structure catching
on fire and quickly going into a blaze, exploding occasionally with gusts of
blazes lashing out. It was odd to witness this just after this strange
sequence inside our own home. The news said later it had been a barn nearby
which had caught fire.
We have on two adjacent sides of our home heating systems which use
electrical air filtering systems which electrically charge dust particles to
remove them from the air. On this particular night the filters which you
could see from the hallway were sparking and making unusually loud noises.
The next morning we had our electrician examine the nearby electrical outlet
and he found no signs of anything unusual and our HVAC tech came out and
cleaned our filters stating they appeared to be OK and relatively clean.
I regret not going in closer when I first saw the blaze to get a better
look, but I know what I saw and it was not just a reflection as my husband
has wondered. He believes it may have been St. Elmo's Fire since he did
hear the noise it made.
Subject: Unusual lightning
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000 23:47:31 -0700
From: "Clarice P."
Are you still collecting stories about unusual lightning? If so, here's mine.
I live in North Delta, Canada - we get quite a bit of rain, but thunderstorms are unusual. In
the fall of 1997 (if my memory serves me!) we had a terrible storm that went on for hours. At
first the thunder and lightning were far away, out over the ocean, but as time went on it came
nearer, with the flashes closer and closer together. The rain was pelting down. I was
reading in my living room, wondering if the electricity was going to hold out (the lights had
flickered once or twice). Suddenly I was simultaneously aware of an immense boom (sounding as
though it was both outside the house and inside the house) and an intensely white ball of
light, that appeared in the air about a foot or two over the back of my television set. It
was about 2 feet in diameter, didn't touch the walls, didn't move, and lasted less than a
second before disappearing. It made a crackling, zapping sound. I didn't notice any odour,
and there didn't appear to be any damage to
the tv set or the electrical outlets nearby.
I've often wondered if it was "ball" lightning, but it doesn't seem typical of other
Subject: Ball of Lightning
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 07:31:46 -0500
From: Henry Coll
My name is Enrique (Henry) J. Coll.
I now live in Canada since 1969, but I was born and raised in Uruguay, a small country in
When I was 10 years old in 1958, two of my cousings and I were sitting in the living-room
of my uncle's farm house having something to eat in the afterrnoon. My aunt was making some
toast for us and prior to that, she had been ironing some clothes with the electric iron. It
was a nice spring afterrnon and we had had some showers with moderate thunder, but everything
was calm and there was a little bit of sunshine through the clouds.
My cousins and I were just about to get up from the sofa where we were watching TV and walk to
the kitchen to sit down and eat when all of a sudden, a ball of fire, the size of a soccer ball
and yellowish orange in colour entered through the open kitchen window.
It was hissing very loudly and moved in a zig/zag/ fashion accross the room until it hit the
water fawcets in the kitchen. A loud bang was heard and the plaster from the brick wall
shattered in all directions. About two seconds later, it desapeared under the front door.
There was sulphur smell in the air. The TV was burned, many outlets of the house were charred
and also the electric iron was smoking and burned.
The wall was opened-up with a big crack. We did not know what had happened but when my uncle
commented this with some people, he was told that the house had been hit by a CENTELLA, which
is the name that they are known in Spanish.
Subject: Heavenly Body at Close Range
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 20:23:15 -0600
From: "Jeffery & Susan Morris"
When I was approximately 11 years old I experienced the strangest scientific phenomena of my
life. I can tell you that the weather conditions were not remarkable. I do believe it was
afternoon and I do remember it being somewhat sunny. I was sitting on my grandmother's sofa
with her. We were facing south. My great aunt was sitting to our left (east) in a chair. Next
to my great aunt was a French door that led to a patio. As we were visiting, a ball of
lightning entered the east patio door at about 4' off the floor. It was the size of a
basketball and yellowish white, very, very bright. It traveled right in front of our faces.
About 2' in front of us. It traveled to the right of me, and then amazingly it made the little
jog of about 1' to the right, necessary to continue through the house without touching any
walls or (thank God, people!) and then exiting out the bathroom (closed) windows. That was it.
I never heard my grandmother speak of it - ever. She probably thought that in those days
someone would think we were "off our rockers!" Only recently, have I heard that it is called
Ball Lightning. Perfect name. I was always in awe of the fact that it traveled through one
screen on the patio and two windows in the house without damaging anything. Well, perhaps
there was some kind of damage to electrical things in the house, but like I said it was never
brought up again. I feel so blessed to have seen it at such close proximity. I'll remember it
Subject: Ball Lightning
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 00:27:55 EDT
Less than four hours ago, a friend and I had an experience with what could be described as
ball lightning. This afternoon (July 19, 1999), at about 5:15 PM the Southeast section of
Denver experienced a particularly violent thunderstorm, accompanied by strong gusts of winds.
We were in the kitchen of her home in Englewood, and opened the mini-blinds to watch the
driving rain and lightning.
The storm was unusually close, with the time between flashes of light and the accompanying
thunder going from several seconds to a single second, and even sooner. The cats were playing
in the family room, a high-ceilinged room adjacent to the kitchen. In the matter of a few
seconds, our hair stood on end like there was a huge charge of static electricity, there was
a brilliant white flash the size of a basketball in the family room about eight feet from
the floor and three feet from an interior wall, and a simultaneous explosion (like an M-80
firecracker), which rattled the windows on the first floor of the house. The flash triggered
the home security system and several smoke alarms. There was the smell of ozone, similar to
that of and electric motor, in the air.
I happened to be looking right at the flash as it happened. The flash/bang lasted less than a
second. It occurred several feet away from any electrical device, and away from any wall or
other surface. There was no sign of scorching anywere, but the smell of smoke or ozone lasted
for several minutes, until after the fire department arrived.
There was no sign of fire or smouldering. The TV in the family room entertainment center, two
computer monitors at opposite ends of the basement, and three modems (on three separate
floors, and up to 35 feet away) were blown. One CPU was ruined (but not its monitor), and one
monitor was badly magnetized but de-gaussing corrected 90% of the problem.
The house's three telephone lines remained in working order, and no electrical circuit
breakers were tripped. The fire marshall, while at the house, reported that several homes in
the area had been hit.
Subject: Ball lightning
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999
From: Meia R. Wozniak (personal communication)
I was in Worcester Mass in the summer of 1995. There was a big
thunderstorm going by and I decided to go on our front porch and watch
as I usually do. Towards the middle of the storm I saw a bright round
ball of white fire. It was rolling up the middle of our street, and it
looked about 4 feet in diameter. A quarter up our street the lightening
split in 3's. Than half way up the street it split to 6's. Three
quarters up the street it connected to 3's again. At the top of our hill
it was a 4 foot ball again. All the while I was hearing a low rumbling
sound like thunder and a sharp crackling-hissing sound, a lot like
frying food. During this event small tendrils of the lightening would
reach out to cars, telephone poles, anything close by. As this happened
our power went out, and was out for 2 1/2 hours. I remember it to this
Subject: Ball lightning
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 1998
From: Mike Rosen (personal communication)
In the mid 70's, I saw what I later learned was probably ball lighning. I
had left my fifth grade class to use the restroom and saw the following
phenomenon above the schoolyard while returning to class. Due to the warmer
climate in California, most schools have covered outdoor walkways rather
than indoor halls. I was on a second floor outdoor walkway.
It was a rainy day. I saw a slightly yellowish white ball of light, perhaps
up to six inches in diameter. It floated rather serenely on a diagonal path
downwards. It moved much like a soap bubble does, from about 25 feet (when
I first noticed it) to about ten feet off the ground (about at my eye level
on the second floor) where it stopped it's descent and remained still. It's
difficult to describe what happened next. My perception was that it
instantaneous "grew" into an ordinary white-out lightning flash. (Imagine a
camera iris quickly opening and closing) I've heard people describe
lightning balls "exploding". This would not be a bad description for what I
saw. After this flash, the ball was gone.
I can't accurately recall the duration of the event. I would guess it was
ten to fifteen seconds. I honestly can't recall any sound associated with
the event, though when the flash occured, there was probably a sound like
you'd expect from being close to a strike.
Subject: Ball lightning
Date: Friday, July 3, 1998
From: Roland Segroves (personal communication)
About 20 years ago in Moore County, Tennessee, I observed ball lightning.
My ball was actually about three or four feet long and about two feet in
diameter. It occurred during a thunder storm. I was wet from the storm
and barefooted, when after a lightning strike about 75 yards from my
position in an attached garage, the ball appeared. It moved slowly about 6
inches to a foot above the ground towards my position. I thought it was
following a buried electrical line and would disapate when it came to an
electric fence, but it came on towards my house. When it got to the patio
it disappeared and I began to get an electric shock beginning at my feet
and running up my legs. The force of the shock was less than that of an
What did you see and hear? What did the ball look like; did it glow
brightly or dimly, and what color was it? When it disappeared did it go
with a flash or simply wink out? Did any sounds accompany it either during
its motion or when it disappeared? I realize that after 20 years you may
not remember very much, but anything you got from your senses is important
in understanding this phenomenon.
You may use my description on your site and you may use my name. In anwser
to your questions: the event took place during a thunder/lightning storm
and other than those sounds associated with such a storm I don't recall
anything else. I believe I saw a lightning strike near the place the fire
ball appeared; it reminded me of a burning log that is about two feet in
diameter and three foot or so long; it glowed very brightly with the same
color and consistency of a roaring fire (but no noise); It rolled to the
edge of my concrete patio that was within 20 feet of my position and just
disappeared all at once without any sound or fanfare. My electric meter
which has an accompanying ground rod five feet or so deep in the ground
were located within ten feet of my position. When the electric shock got
above my knees, I ran into the house.
Subject: Ball Lightning
Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 01:52:23 -0700
From: Monte L.
One night during the summer of 1983 I was sitting in my unlit attic
studio watching a very active thunder storm. Our house was on a hill
and I had an overview of the town of Lebanon, PA. About three blocks away
I suddenly saw two brightly glowing blue balls of basketball sized light
rolling in an easterly direction on the upper surface of a high
tension wire. Vapor steamed upwards from the wire as the balls passed over
I yelled for my wife, who was downstairs at the time, but before I
could get the words out to tell her what I had seen, three more balls
travelled along the same wire - more or less evenly spaced about ten
or fifteen feet apart by my estimation. I do not recall them being
extinguished while they were in view, and believe they were still
intact as they went out of sight. The entire incident probably occured in
less than a minute. To the best of my knowledge I was the only observer.
Subject: Some dramatic ball lightning episodes
Date: 21 Mar 1996 11:53:43 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Chaston111)
Following up on the recent postings on ball lightning, the following are
some documented cases of interest.
In January 1984, ball lightning entered a Russian passenger aircraft, and
according to the Russian news release, "flew above the heads of the
stunned passengers", subsequently leaving through the tail section. The
ball lightning left two holes in the plane.
Here is some of the text from the news release: "Suddenly...a fireball
about four inches in diameter appearead on the fuselage in front of the
crew's cockpit. It disappeared with a deafening noise, but re-emerged
several seconds later in the passengers' lounge, after piercing in an
uncanny way through the air-tight metal wall. The fireball slowly flew
above the heads of the stunned passengers. In the tail section of the
airliner it divided into two glowing crescents which then joined together
again and left the plane almost noiselessly."
While repairing equipment aboard the aircraft, mechnainics discovered two
holes - one in the front of the fuselage and another in the tail section.
Ball lightning has been known to squeeze itself through a keyhole or under
a door, subsequently reassuming its ball shape about the size of a
basketball when inside the house. It has also seemed to be attracted to
anything animate, which is why we have stories of ball lightning "chasing"
people and animals, imparting a static-electricity type of charge when
catching up with humans or pets.
A particularly intereting ball lightning episode occurred during the
explosion of Mount St. Helens in Washington state in 1980. Observers
reported the following, from about 100 miles southeast of the volcano:
"The lightning was in ball form, streaking towards the ground, connected
neither with the cloud nor with the ground. It was like a group of balls
all going in the same direction." Closer to the volcano, at about 29
miles north of it, an eye-witness reported, "After the cloud passed
overhead, lots of lightning started at some 600 to 800 feet in the air,
and formed big balls, big as a pickup, and just started rolling across the
ground and bouncing."
Ball lightning's life-span lasts from a few seconds to perhaps over a
One of the strangest stories I am personally aware of happened when I was
the Meteorologist-in-Charge of the NWS Office at Rochester, New York.
While working the day shift during a day with considerable thunderstorm
activity, an aquaintance who was a commercial airline pilot came into the
office and told me about a ball lightning encounter his aircraft
passengers experienced while in descent to the airport through a
thunderstorm. A "ball of sparks" about the size of a basketball entered
the aircraft apparently through an engine intake, moved into the fuselage,
and proceeded to a chase a flight attendant up and down the aisle. She
was screaming as she tried to outrun the ball lightning. The lightning
apparently dissipated quickly before striking her.
I documented these and a lot of other highly unusual weather stories in
the book, "Terror From the Skies".
Except for one photograph a colleague gave me, which he believes may be a
rare picture of ball lightning, there is no significant photographic,
including video, documentation of ball lightning. It is infrequent and
lasts typically for under a minute, so that you or I would have to have
ready access to a camcorder or camera to catch it while underway. With
the proliferation of video cameras in our society, we will hopefully have
some good visuals of ball lightning underway, which should help us in
understanding the phenomenon.
Subject: Re: Ball lightning
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 1996 00:57:37 GMT
From: email@example.com (Henk Lankamp)
In July last year there was a ball lightning just some 50 meters of my
home. I didn't see it myself, but both my wife and son did. They
didn't see a 'normal' lightning preceding the ball. The ball was just
above the houses and disappeared within a few seconds with a loud BANG
(sound of an explosion), I heard the sound myself, and (my wife and
son told me) the ball was red coloured and had a diameter of a
football. The ball didn't move, it just exploded and disappeaerd. The
ball lightning caused some damage on TV-equipment and fuses in the
houses nearby. The ball was seen by a lot off other people as well, as
stated in the newspaper the next day.
At the moment there was a small (unexpected) thunderstorm moving
across the city. There were only a few vertical lightnings before and
afterwards. There was no rain at the moment of the lightning.
Henk Lankamp, Groningen, the Netherlands
Groningen, the Netherlands
Subject: Close Encounter With Ball Lightning
Date: 12 May 1996 01:38:49 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org(Jim Conlin )
Sometime in August, 1995, my twin nine year old daughters saw something
that sounds a lot like ball lightning.
They both happened to be looking out our rear window watching a violent
afternoon thunderstorm (near Columbus, OH) when they saw what they
describe as a bright ball with streaks of lightning coming out of it
above the rooflines of the neighboring houses. While they do not agree
on the distance away (one thought the ball was above the backyard while
the other though it was over the next block or further), they do agree
that it was motionless and remained for three to five seconds.
I was talking on the telephone with their older sister at the time and
since she was using a portable (home radio type) phone, the
transmission was interrupted and we were cut off. Calling them back
immediately, I found the twins hysterical from what they has seen. I
initially discounted their descriptions as inaccurate or misidentified.
However, nine months later their descriptions have not changed and the
experience is clearly apart from anything they had seen before or have
since. I have come to beleive that what they saw was the phenomenon
sometimes called ball lightning and, given the elusiveness and
controversy surrounding the subject, would be happy to share further
details of their experience to individuals or agencies studying the
Curiously enough, this event occurred only a little over a month after
our home received a weak but direct lightning strike. As a matter of
fact, I happened to be touching the garage door's steel guiding rail
when the house was struck resulting in a burn to my left palm and sore
muscles in my arms the next day. I can provide accute details of that
experience as well including the moment before the strike during which
the charge was building up.
Thank you in advance for your help.
P.S.: If there is a more appropriate newsgroup for this post, please
Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 20:53:28 -0500
From: Mike Duffy < email@example.com> (personal communication)
Subject: Unusual lightning
I saw your request for unusual weather in the sci.geo.meteorology
usenet group. Here is a description of some very unusual lightning
I observed several years ago:
I was driving eastwards from Toronto to Ottawa one evening in the
middle of the summer. The sunset (behind me) seemed to go on for
a very long time. The whole sky took on a very attractive and
unusual shade of purple/pink, and after a while I remarked to
myself that because of a low uniform cloud deck the pink glow
seemed just as bright in all directions. This went on for over
an hour, until I rather abrupty realized that it really should
be getting darker. At first, I just assumed the lighted sky ahead
was due to the proximity of a city, until I remembered that I had
already gone past the Peterborough turnoff. I checked out of my
side windows and found that the pink glow was the same everywhere.
I actually got the little skin crawling sensation on the back of
my neck that happens when something is amiss. I pulled my car
over at a rest stop in order to investigate and after I got out
of the car I noticed a crackling sound which I thought at first
was due to a faulty insulator on a nearby hydro line. When I looked
up it was then that I first noticed that the entire sky was covered
by very fine lightning which extended from horizon to horizon in
all directions. The individual lightning "bolts" were so fine that
they appeared almost like spider webbing, hugging the contours of
the bottom of the cloud deck as they spread. I was completely
dumbstruck for several minutes as the realization sunk in that
this display was what had been causing the pink glow in the clouds,
and that I had been driving under it for over an hour without
noticing the fine lightning strands.
After a while noticed that there was an ordering of the display.
The lightning was oriented in distinct east-west bands, with a
clear area in between each band. Each band was organized as an
array of separate tree-shaped structures with the "trunk" pointed
south. The entire band "moved" northwards by each tree sending out
new feelers towards the north, some of which eventually would
strengthen and become brighter. At the same time, the southern
trunks would "pop" out of existence, splitting the tree into two
or more smaller ones. I determined the cloud deck to be about
1/3 to 1/2 sound-seconds in altitude by correlating extra loud "pop"s
in the general crackling noise to the dissappearance of the
major trunk-like structures. It took about 20 seconds for one line
of lightning "trees" to move out and be replaced by another one.
At the zenith, each band of lightning (and corresponding clear area
together) distended about 15 degrees of arc. Following is an attempt
to use ASCII to draw this. Imagine your feet pointing South with your
head tilted back so you're looking straight up:
North is behind you
v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v
V V V V V V V V V V V V
\ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ /
Y Y Y Y Y Y
I I I I I I
I I I I I I
< East West >
v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v
V V V V V V V V V V V V
\ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ /
Y Y Y Y Y Y
I I I I I I
I I I I I I
The lightning bolts were not regimented as precisely as this. Within
each band, some were ahead of their neighbours, but the clear area
between each band was completely devoid of anything. Each bolt was NOT
symettric as I have drawn here. The whole structure moved north by new
"feelers" constantly growing out of the "v"s in my picture while trunks
would eventually "pop" off as the clear band encroached on it. The
uniform cloud deck was sort of bumpy-bottomed. The lightning bolts
seemed to go as high as they could without touching the clouds.
There was no precipitation whatsoever. After I watched for about
45 minutes I decided to get on with my trip, and I continued to see
this unusual display for about two more hours until I drove past
the bottom of the cloud deck.
I've spoken about this at times with meteorologists where I used to
work at Environment Canada. None of them has ever heard tell of such
a thing. However, there was one old asian gentleman (a systems
engineer) who said he saw a similar display once.
Of course, now I never travel without a camera.