Ball lightning or Earth lights?

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LoneBear
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Ball lightning or Earth lights?

Post by LoneBear » Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:56 am

There was a string of violent thunderstorms last night over the Laramie mountains near Wheatland, Wyoming. I was outside securing things, as those storms tend to produce some very high winds (sometimes in excess of 100 mph), and grounding the construction equipment. I was looking out in the direction of Laramie Peak, and this brilliant white light, about the size of a quarter held at arms length, dropped out of the clouds. The mountains are about 20 miles away, and this light was actually lighting up the fence. For a second I thought it was a fireball, as I've seen a number of them out here, but it was moving northerly VERY slowly, almost drifting. Not a fireball, maybe a flare? Nope, too big and too bright. LM mothership? Nope, not disturbing the cloud cover enough, which was backlighted by all the lightning and easy to see. It drifted around for about 10 seconds, then started moving back up into the cloud layer and disappeared.

So, if it was actually over the mountains, it was something REALLY big. I could not get over how bright it was--left those "flash bulb" effects on my eyes from looking at it, where you see a spot where the flash goes off for a while.

My guess is either "earth lights", geologic stress lights, since it was in the mountains and those kind of lights are often reported in mountains before earthquakes, or it was ball lightning, as there was substantial lightning in the area (the kind of lightning that almost flashes nonstop). If it was ball lightning, then it was probably small and close, as ball lightning distance is very hard to judge, being a 2D electron surface. It always looks like it is on the horizon, even if it is only 100 feet away.

In either case, made for a strange evening! Going to have to keep my eyes open, and maybe pocket a camera.

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Re: Ball lightning or Earth lights?

Post by LoneBear » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:17 am

More weirdness today... I was awakened by what I thought was thunder... not the crack-boom of a nearby storm, but that rolling rumble that you get when a big storm is still a ways off. Loud enough to wake me and shake a few things. I was just getting up when a second boom hit, same kind. Was thinking, "dang, bit early for thunderstorms today" and stepped outside to see what was heading this way...

Surprise! Nothing but a clear, blue sky outside. Not even one little cloud.

Just a little while ago, some more rumbles came through, 4 of them, a few minutes apart. Sounds just like thunder, except there aren't any clouds in the sky, nor does the weather radar show any storms in the area. All I could tell was that it was coming from the north (Laramie mountains are to the west of here). Being a Saturday, it is not likely that a construction company would be doing any explosions, particularly of that size. Not sure what it is.

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Re: Ball lightning or Earth lights?

Post by Belthazor » Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:20 am

Our neighbors were visiting some relatives up in Moodus, Connecticut back in March, and they heard similar things--loud thundercracks or explosions, without any apparent source. The locals said it was "Moodus Noises" and that they have been heard for centuries. We did some checking on the internet, and found an old Indian legend, from where the town gets its name.. Mackimoodus, the "place of evil noises", supposedly caused by an angry spirit known as Hobbamocko.

Geologists are saying that it is just micro-earthquakes, and there is something about the terrain that makes it amplify a minor earthquake noise to large proportions.

If you did see earth lights from geologic stress, then it may be the booms from something similar to Moodus.

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Re: Ball lightning or Earth lights?

Post by LoneBear » Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:41 am

I read about the Moodus noises when I was a kid. I think it was in the old FATE magazine, and said that some geologist had found a cave in a mountain there, and found something dripping from the ceiling, which when accumulated a sufficient quantity on the floor, exploded, and the cave acted like a trumpet. He did something to keep the stuff from collecting, and the noises had stopped. They had not been heard for years after that.

I suppose it is a possibility here. This really sounded just like thunder, not an explosion. Though with all the rain we've had this year (approaching 400% of normal), all that extra ground water could easily cause some slippage in the mountains.

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Re: Ball lightning or Earth lights?

Post by Belthazor » Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:46 pm

LoneBear, thought you might find this interesting:
June 7, 2011 Albuquerque, New Mexico
“I heard the boom. It kind of woke me up.
It was louder than anything I'd heard before.”
- Jack Hughes, D.V.M., Tipton County, Indiana

June 13, 2011 - More Mysterious Booms.
“It's just scary to hear/feel these and not know what is causing them.”
- Placerville, Calif. resident

“We live southeast of Placerville, California, and just heard today loud booms in the distance southeast of us. They came in 3 or 4 in a row and lasted around 1 minute. It shook our garage doors. They sounded like cannon blasts - something very heavy hitting the ground. The weather is clear/sunny - no clouds at all. I checked the USGS website and no reported earthquakes; I checked CalTrans and no work in our county. I heard the same booms a couple of days ago also lasting the same amount of time. It's just scary to hear/feel these and not know what is causing them.”
It appears your experience is not an isolated incident. They are being reported all over the country.

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