Bolts From the Blue: The Electric Colors of Lightning
Though a lightning bolt radiates pure white light, various atmospheric conditions can tint the brilliant flash into a rainbow of electrical colors. Red, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple, violet, cyan, and orange are all possible lightning colors, depending upon the presence of water vapor, dust, pollution, rain, or hail. Just as lightning is said never to strike twice in the same place, no two lightning bolts are ever exactly the same color. In fact, different branches of the same bolt can exhibit different colors, due to temperature variations. The hotter the bolt, the bluer or whiter it will appear, and the cooler it is, the more orange or red. Because lightning heats the air as it travels, the presence of different gasses will also lend color as they ignite.
Weather expert Dan Robinson explains that different film stocks, exposure times, and camera types can also bring color to lightning. "The same lightning channel can appear blue, purple, red or orange depending on the type of film, length of exposure, and other factors. Slide film is more likely to produce a more purple/blue image, while print film tends to give lightning a more yellow/orange tint."
- A lightning bolt can travel 60,000 miles per hour.
- Lightning temperatures can reach nearly 30,000 K (55,000° F), which is five times hotter than the sun.
- In addition to thunder storms, dust storms and volcanic ash eruptions can trigger lightning. So can rock launches, aircraft flights, and nuclear detonations.
- The exact cause of lightning remains "hotly debated" in scientific circles.
A double rainbow and lightning bolt, by tenfrozentoes.
[Read the entire article in my guest blog