St. Elmo's Fire: What is behind this electrifying phenomenon?

·1 min read
St. Elmo's Fire: What is behind this electrifying phenomenon?
St. Elmo's Fire: What is behind this electrifying phenomenon?

For the pilots leading a jet into Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport this month, seeing a bizarre electrical pattern unfold in front of their eyes must have been a scary sight.

What they witnessed wasn't out of the ordinary, though the phenomenon isn't something you would anticipate to see on a frequent basis.

What he encountered is known as St. Elmo's Fire, which is a luminous plasma that is created between clouds and the ground in the vicinity of a thunderstorm's electric field, which rips molecules apart in a process called ionization.

St. Elmo's Fire has both audible and visual effects. In some instances with low light, a whitish-blue ghostly glow is emitted near sharp objects.

With files from Kyle Brittain.

Watch the video to see footage of this unique electrical phenomenon and what causes it.

Thumbnail courtesy of David Tonn.

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