Unusual “Nebula” Lightning

Published on: June 21, 2012

This isn’t particularly strange, but it was unusual and unexpected so in the context of the other incidents that followed, I thought I better include it for completeness.

I’m thinking this is just unusual lightning, but the only lightning I’ve seen in the past was either what I call “sheet lightning” (big total sheets of white”) or “chain lightning” (which I think is the zigzag stuff people love to catch in photos).  I haven’t seen sparks in the sky, that light up specific clouds.

The other thing is that there was no bad weather. No other lightning. No thunder. No sound at all. Just the cars on the road. And it was so weird that I pulled over and filmed the end of it when I got to the highway ramp. I wasn’t thinking UFOs or anything like that, just that it was the strangest thing I’d ever seen.

Flashing Clouds

Six months after a move of more than 1600km, I was nicely settled into my new home. Returning home one evening, Jun 21, 2012, a series of strange flashes and glows seemed to randomly appear within the clouds ahead of my car.

As I drove along the highway, I watched some lightning that was very unusual (to me). It was mostly very localized flashes, highlighting a cloud here or there, almost like looking at a nebula, some very brilliant and obvious to anyone outside. There was no sound from it at all, at least none that I heard.

I watched while I drove until I got to my turnoff. I almost missed recording any of it, as the light show seemed to head out to sea, but once I was stopped, I caught some of the smaller ones at the end.

I noticed that some of the longer-lasting ones seemed to have what was like some kind of plasma discharge that would travel across the cloud, almost like a Star Trek force-field that someone touched, and on TV it would sizzle and spread across the field. In this case, it was silent, but in a few cases I definitely saw this forcefield-like effect. It may have been more like a Tesla coil effect, as I couldn’t really tell if it was a surface effect or from within. Regardless, it was an interesting light show to see. I wish I had stopped earlier to get the larger ones, but there were too many trees blocking the view until I got to that exit.

There were 5 flashes during the 2 minutes or so that I filmed, cut down to only include the flashes in this video.  Two of them were minor flashes within cloud, but two were more of like those I had been seeing all the way home (the flashes that looked more “like a nebula”), and one was more like a “spark flash” (more like normal lightning).

Again, there was absolutely no sound to associate with this sight. The only sound the whole time, including during the bright spark-like flashes, was the sound of the cars passing by on the highway.  There was also no rain and it really wasn’t stormy in any way. There wasn’t any normal lightning or thunder, just these flashes in the clouds.

I had heard of ball lightning, so I assumed that explained these flashes. But I looked up ball lightning, and… no.  What about St. Elmo’s Fire?  No.  So I don’t know what this was.

Video with some still captures imbedded in the video below:


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