Sprites over Hurricane Hilda

On August 10th, the National Weather Service reported an intense outburst of lightning from Hurricane Hilda in the Pacific Ocean. Steve Cullen lives in Waikoloa, Hawaii, where the storm is heading, and when he heard the report he had an idea. Cullen explains: “I wondered if the storm was close enough to be captured by the Canada France Hawaii Telescope CloudCam atop Maunakea. After sunset I logged on to the CloudCam site to check the most recent two-hour timelapse loop, and sure enough, WE HAD SPRITES!!!” Here are some frames from the video:

image

Sprites are a strange and beautiful form of lightning that shoot up from the tops of electrical storms. They reach all the way up to the edge of space alongside meteors, auroras, and noctilucent clouds. Some researchers believe cosmic rays help trigger sprites, but this is controversial. In short, sprites are a true space weather phenomenon.

As awareness of sprites has increased in recent years, photographers have started to catch them dancing atop ordinary thunderstorms on a regular basis. Seeing sprites above a hurricane, however, is rare. Most hurricanes don’t even have regular lightning because the storms lack a key in gredient for electrical activity: vertical winds. (For more information read the Science@NASA article “Electric Hurricanes” by Patrick Barry and Dr.Tony Phillips.) Clearly, Hurricane Hilda is not a typical storm.

Story: spaceweather.com

There is also a video of this event:

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s