Puerto Rico In Sight Of Sprites From Hurricane Matthew Saturday
As Hurricane Matthew intensified over the weekend near Colombia, a keen skywatcher in Puerto Rico caught a glimpse of an unusual type of lightning known as sprites.
Since lightning sprites rarely happen, much about them remains a mystery. Vibrant colors were seen dancing during the stormy skies from 400 miles off southwestern Puerto Rico.
While lightning struck the Caribbean Seas during the storm - the regular kind that we could be seen zig-zagging to the ground - there are also lighting strikes that occur in the upper atmosphere, above the thunderstorm clouds. Evanescent flashes of brilliant reddish hues were observed above the storm clouds. They are mostly obscured by clouds and other lightning.
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The large-scale electrical discharges are a rare sight, among the strangest of atmospheric quirks, and hard to photograph because they last for mere milliseconds.
Earlier research studies about lightning sprites referred to them with a variety of names, such as upward lightning, upward discharges, cloud-to-stratosphere discharges, and cloud-to-ionosphere discharges. This event is so rare that many sky watchers and astronomers considered it a myth until a pilot captured a photograph of this shortlived phenomenon in 1989.
Sprites are typically weak bursts of energy released directly over an active thunderstorm cloud with cloud-to-ground lightning below, according to the meteorological society. These lightning strikes are called sprites.
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