Electrifying Video Captures Rare Ground to Sky Lightning [WATCH]
Nature is wild.
I don't know what it is about a storm I find so captivating, but when one rolls into the area I just want to watch it (even though we're told to stay away from windows). Maybe it's the fact that it can take something as simple as the air we breathe and whip it into such a frenzy it can knock down trees. Or, it could be the way it literally generates electricity out of thin air and shoots it across the sky. Maybe I just have a subconscious death wish. Who knows. What I do know is this video I saw retweeted by someone I follow on Twitter recently is one of the wildest storm videos I've ever seen.
Taylor Vonfeldt (a.k.a. @therealskicast on Twitter) shared the video below on Tuesday night during a thunderstorm that rolled through his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. Every time I've ever seen lightning, it starts in the clouds and either shoots its way across the sky or down towards the ground before it fizzles out as quickly as it appeared. I have never in all my 45 years on this planet seen it do something like this.
How crazy is that?
What is Upward Lightning?
According to one of the people who commented on Taylor's video, the phenomenon he captured is called, "upward lightning," more specifically to this case, "lightning-triggered upward lightning." Here's how it happens according to Nature.com:
Upward lightning is the development of a self-propagating lightning leader from a tall object that travels upward toward the overlaying electrified storm cloud. Upward lightning can initiate without any preceding lightning activity, herein classified as self-initiated upward lightning. For self-initiated upward lightning to occur, storm electrification and the resulting presence of a cloud charge region is required to generate an electric field necessary for the initiation and growth of an upward leader. The elevated vertical shape of the tall object enhances the electric field locally resulting in conditions favorable for initiation of an upward leader. However, there is no proceeding nearby lightning activity prior to the initiation of the upward leader. An upward leader from a tall object can also initiate and develop in response to an electric field change created by a nearby preceding lightning flash (also known as the triggering flash). Since the upward leader is essentially triggered by the nearby lightning activity, we refer to this type of upward lightning as lightning-triggered upward lightning.
If I'm understanding it correctly, what Nature.com is saying is that if there's enough of an electrical charge in the air around a tall structure, like a building, for example, the structure will act like a reverse lightning rod allowing the electricity to travel up where it collides with the electrical charge in the atmosphere and, BOOM! creates a lightning bolt.
However it's caused, it definitely looks wild when it happens.
[Sources: Taylor Vonfeldt on Twitter / Nature.com]