White is the most dangerous color of lighting. It suggests both a low concentration of moisture and a high concentration of dust in air. We all are aware that being hit by lightning can have serious consequences.
A recent analysis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) found that a single flash of lightning along the northern Gulf Coast spanned 477 miles across, breaking a world record. This megaflash of lightning lit up an area stretching from Texas to Mississippi.
Green lightning is a rare phenomenon that can be seen during a thunderstorm. Someone who has seen green lightning is extremely lucky as green lightning strikes are rarely seen. It is so rare that the only photograph of a green lightning strike is one from when the Chaiten volcano in Chile erupted.
Red lightning, also known as a "sprite", is an intriguing weather phenomenon associated with certain very intense thunderstorms. While an ordinary lightning flash extends downward from the clouds to the ground, a sprite shoots way up into the upper reaches of the atmosphere.
Dark lightning appears sometimes to compete with normal lightning as a way for thunderstorms to vent the electrical energy that gets pent up inside their roiling interiors, Dwyer says. Unlike with regular lightning, though, people struck by dark lightning, most likely while flying in an airplane, would not get hurt.
Yellow lightning is uncommon; however, they tend to be cooler than the blue, lilac and white. They're caused to due to a high concentration of dust in the air. And is an indication of a dry thunderstorm with low-precipitation.
In snowstorms, where it is somewhat rare, pink and green are often described as colors of lightning. Haze, dust, moisture, raindrops and any other particles in the atmosphere will affect the color by absorbing or diffracting a portion of the white light of lightning.
The rare purple lightning strike occurs far higher in the atmosphere than normal lightning – and has only rarely been caught on film. The flash of 'ionospheric lightning' stands out against the deep blue of a night sky behind, while the raging storm lights up the clouds below.
Red lightning doesn't exist in the literal sense, according to the National Weather Service. The closest known phenomena is something called a red sprite, which occurs high in the atmosphere “directly above an active thunderstorm,” NOAA says.
This oftentimes has to do with how far away or close you are to the lightning strike. When lightning strikes, different particles will scatter this light and cause the strike to appear as blue, pink, purple, white or even a brown-ish tint.
“Superbolts” are the most powerful lightning on Earth, with discharges so strong that they cannot be reproduced in the laboratory. The bolts also display geographic and seasonal attributes opposite that of regular lightning, adding to their mystery.
In fact, lightning can heat the air it passes through to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5 times hotter than the surface of the sun). When lightning strikes a tree, the heat vaporizes any water in its path possibly causing the tree to explode or a strip of bark to be blown off.
The viral photo is especially rare because McCown had to be standing in between the sun and the storm at the exact moment when the angle of the sun hit the raindrops to form a rainbow, and the positive ground charges and negative cloud charges clashed in a flash of lightning. "It's a pretty rare thing," Cerveny said.
Jets. Although jets are considered to be a type of upper-atmospheric lightning, it has been found that they are components of tropospheric lightning and a type of cloud-to-air discharge that initiates within a thunderstorm and travels upwards.
However, the weather phenomenon referred to as "dark lightning" occurs much less frequently. According to NASA, dark lighting is a mostly invisible burst of energy inside of thunderstorms that fills the sky with gamma rays. It is widely considered the most energetic radiation produced naturally on Earth.
When a negative charge is transferred from a cloud to the ground, it's known as negative lightning, and it makes up about 90 to 95 percent of all the lightning you ever see. By contrast, positive lightning happens because of that positive charge that builds up at the top of the cloud.