"Ball Lightning" Story


There are no stranger accounts meteorologically speaking than those of ball lightning. Almost seems BL has a mind of its own... a phenomenon I have never seen and one I dont BELIEVE has ever been documented with video?
I was unsure about ball lightning – until I actually saw it myself and just missed out capturing it on video!

It was during the 4th June 2003 new Mexico “world eater†Supercell.
Here is what I wrote in my diary at the time ...

It was at this stage that I believe that I and two other passengers (T & J) witnessed a ball lightning incident? I saw a orange sized orb of bright blue light – about waist height – pass across the front of the van from right to left – I dismissed this as a power flash as we did have power lines to our right – however it was moving at 90 degrees to 60 mph inflow winds that were coming from directly behind the van – no one captured this on tape however as we all had our video turned off!
Well I just observed a lightening ball today in the southern sierra nevadas:

After observing an interesting wedge form, and verifying the instability with some huge mammatus hail clouds, I decided to stop my RV. It was at this time I disconnected my tow vehicle and sent my wife on her way home, as her interest level was low in the evemt.
After watching for a half hour I was amazed to see a round ball of lightening bounce across the empty fiels about 70 yards away. It bounced a couple times and flared up, and then a puff of smoke. There was NO noise affiliated with it and it left me speachless.
Is this a rare event?

Being that you are one of the few who actually has witnessed ball lightning, absolutely! I only wish you had videotaped the event.

Consider yourself extremely lucky to have witnessed that. which leaves me with some questions.

1. How can an electical orb, being not a solid object but pure energy, have the capability to "bounce"?

2. It "flared up" then dissipated with a puff of smoke. What would be "feeding it" to cause it to flare...and similiarly, what would have just as soon "popped" it?

I would like to state however that mammatus are not hail clouds, they are simply a sign of extreme instability in the anvil portion of a thunderstorm and not always indicitive of severe weather. As far as the wedge form, it would have been nice to have a photograph of that to verify if it was scud, inflow feature, etc...
As best as I can say it bounced and thats when I saw it at first - flashing sparks and then on its second bounce it shot up a plume of smoke as to have hit a sage tree or simply burn out. The whole event lasted about 15 seconds, total. This happened at 10:00 this morning if anyone wants to know just south of pearsonville california 15 miles on interstate 395..
I did look at what the spc site radar looked like and it seem like a large system. There was a distinct dry line and the system was loaded with moisture, and cold enough to hold hail. I was about 50 miles east of the sierra range as the system was building.
There were no structures around (homes or buildings). I did take pics of the mammatus and they were of a large size. I also have pics of the cell formation just minutes before the event, that I would be happy to email as I dont know how to post here on site.... (duhh)
I saw one once. It was cool. About 3 feet in diameter and kind of a black light purplish color swirling and making a hissing sound as it moved slowly over a friends house. It lasted probably 10 or 15 secs and then vanished. There were no storms at the time, although there might have been one earlier in the day. The sky was partly cloudy.