There are other types of natural phenomena related to electrical storms. Two of the most curious phenomena are Ball Lightning, also known as the Globular Ray, and Sprites.

BALL LIGHTNING

Ball Lightning or Globular Ray is a spherical and sparkly natural phenomenon that appears during the electrical storms. This, unlike the common lightning, is persistent.

This phenomenon is extremely unusual. Furthermore, the details that appear in the reports of the people who have witnessed this event are totally opposites.

According to witnesses, these discharges are spherical or ovoidal, very luminous and sparkling. It can remain immobile suspended in the air or move slowly or quickly. They can also slide attracted by some object or completely randomly. Its dimensions are, usually, between 10 cm and 40 cm. They can make sibilant, abnormal sounds or make no noise. After a few seconds, the discharge disappears dispersing or, rarely, with an explosion.

In 1638, the first documented case of a Ball Lightning in a village in southwestern England took place. One of the Ball Lightnings destroyed the roof of the church of San Pancracio during the Great Electric Storm.

People considered that Ball Lightning were a myth during many years. But, although many of the characteristics of this particular phenomenon are still unknown, such as the longevity of its existence or why it floats in the air, it is already recognized as a real type of discharge.

SPRITES

Sprite is a mysterious electrical phenomenon that occurs above the storm systems reaching even the stratosphere. Its diameter can be up to tens of km. Its nature has not yet been explained.

Sprites appear immediately after the positive cloud-to-ground lightnings. This type of lightnings represent only 5-10% of all lightnings.

The first reports about its existence date from 1886. The Nobel Prize for Physics Charles Wilson had already announced, in theory, the presence of this phenomenon in 1925 but people doubted its existence until July 6, 1989 when a Sprite was recorded, accidentally, by the physicist John R. Winkler and his team.

After this, Sprites have been studied to know their characteristics, understand their appearance and value the risk they suppose.

Teams of atmospheric researchers have identified, thanks to technology, different types of electrical discharge over the clouds related with this phenomenon. These discharges are know as “Elves” and “Blue Jets”, although Sprites are the most common.