Leaping cloud reminds us anomalous observations are valuable!

New instant of a mysterious and stunning cloud phenomena. It’s a great example of how anomalies may be very real even if very weird.

This video was uploaded May 27, 2014

Does any body see the beam on the top of tower cumulonimbus cloud?
This picture was take in front of the cockpit A320 on ground, Suvanabhumi Airport, Thailand (VTBS) around 0110 UTC 27/05/2014.

This is weird and startling to people who see it but it’s been observed before. We covered a similar video, taken in Singapore back in 2011.

I first saw this from Forgetomori, a marvelous site I miss very much. You can see additional videos at these two links.

forgetomori » A New Natural Phenomenon: Crown Flash.

forgetomori » Leaping Streams of Light: a New Natural Phenomenon.

It does not appear these are camera artifacts but leaping streams of light directed by electrical fields.

A changing e-field could rotate all the ice plates or needles, causing the sundog to suddenly change shape and position. Or less likely, perhaps some condensing droplets are changing size under e-field influence (growth/shrinkage of small droplets is known to be altered by strong electrostatic fields.)

Sudden changes in brightness above the cloud have been observed and noted in Nature journal by W. Beaty. It had been called “crown flash”. The various YouTube videos helped characterize and confirm this anomaly. NEAT!

Possible Newly Recognized Meteorological Phenomenon called Crown Flash.

Whether this is the exact phenomenon or something slightly different, because of the conditions, it is likely the same root cause. We’re not just seeing things. It has an explanation.

But even more interesting speculation is entertained by Beaty. He says that this phenomena of electrical field influence may explain some past anomalies scientists may have disregarded:

E-fields could cause transient flashing or brightness alteration of high ice clouds during earthquakes.

If a slight cirrus overcast should become totally aligned by strong fields, ice clouds would no longer have random particle orientation to produce optical scattering. They might change from white to transparent, and eyewitnesses might report a sudden “darkening of the sky.”

Transient flashing or brightness alteration of cirrus clouds in the period before earthquakes.

Data is accumulating to show various quake-precursor phenomena may produce significant e-fields.

Also, people may report strange behavior of the sun.

Distortion of the subsun, or perhaps coherent shifting of the subsun. [...]If such a suubsun were observed to move during lightning discharges, easily attaining perceived velocities far in excess of the speed of sound, the eyewitness reports would be very strange.

Reports of two observed suns. This most often should occur at sunrise/sunset during conditions of wide-area overcast of high ice clouds. If ice crystals are aligned and a “super-sun” happens to be moved into a position visible from the ground, then eyewitnesses will report seeing a second sun accompanying the real one.

Or reports of a meteor when there is NO impact. It is just an optical effect. Could this explain some atmospheric weirdness like UFOs?

This might occur most often during sunset/sunrise with high ice cloud overcast. If ice crystals are aligned by e-fields and a “super-sun” becomes visible from ground locations, and if a dynamically changing e-field then causes the supersun to move across the (electrically darkened) sky, eyewitnesses may report seeing a giant meteor. [...]Since dynamically changing e-fields wouldn’t necessarily produce an ordinary bolide trajectory, the “boloid” might be seen to move in non-parabolic trajectories, to stop in place, or to suddenly change direction.

This is true Fortean stuff when anomalies lead us to something new. They are not to be ignored!

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  4 comments for “Leaping cloud reminds us anomalous observations are valuable!

  1. May 31, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    The classic paper on this is B. Vonnegut “Orientation of ice crystals in the electric field of a thunderstorm” (1965), Weather 20, 10, pp 310-312. (That’s Kurt Vonnegut’s brother the weather physicist, and probable inventor of “Ice Nine” in the novel “Cat’s Cradle.” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.1477-8696.1965.tb02740.x/abstract

    Here’s a magnetic analog: nickel micro-flakes suspended in water, and oriented by the field of a variable electromagnet. I’d seen this effect myself in the late 1980s, so when I encountered those “leaping sundog” videos online, I was familiar with the optics behind it. Attempts to produce visible 3D magnetic fields instead lead to demonstrations of specular effects of aligned fibers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay8m_IRyDd4 http://www.magnicians.com/

    • June 1, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      This. Is. Awesome.

  2. June 1, 2014 at 3:12 AM

    “Or reports of a meteor when there is NO impact. It is just an optical effect. Could this explain some atmospheric weirdness like UFOs?”

    The great majority of meteors burn up in the atmosphere without any impact.

  3. Bill D'Arcy
    June 4, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    A few thoughts, and suggestions for supplementary observations…

    In some of the videos on the Net, the cloud is backlit, because the view is towards the Sun. (Cherdphong Visarathanonth’s video is an exception, being filmed away from the Sun at Bangkok’s airport.) Are the phenomena in or near the position of any of the ice-crystal halo positions? Any measurement of azimuth and angular inclination of both the phenomenon and the Sun would be valuable; (alternatively, latitude, longitude and time would allow calculation of the Sun’s position in the sky, without endangering one’s eyes by trying to measure the Sun’s position directly).

    In some of the videos there are background noises during the recording, but I can’t recall noticing thunder. However, these videos may have been recording low-intensity discharges, where the flash is hidden in the cloud, and the sound level is too feeble to reach the observer (“quiet” thunder?)

    Is there anyone out there with a field-strength meter or lightning detector and video camera keen to investigate?

    If anyone catches these phenomena and thunder noises, check for a correlation (allowing for the distance-delay of the thunder). Distance between observer and thunder-cloud be measured by viewing your local weather radar website. Also, by measuring the angular inclination to the top of the cloud, one could calculate the height of the top of the cloud. Is this height consistent with formation of ice crystals?

    Detailed knowledge of your local weather patterns would help to predict likely conditions for these sightings; however, keep an open mind… maybe cumulonimbus clouds aren’t necessary, and you might miss something interesting because you didn’t expect thunderstorms, and didn’t look at the sky.

    Also, a good working knowledge of ice-haloes would be useful, to enable you to move a few kilometres to a location where the observer-Sun-cloud geometry is favourable for haloes; or, so you could judge which way to travel to maintain the appropriate geometry if the cloud is moving. Once again, keep an open mind in case the phenomenon isn’t related to halo positions (maybe as in Cherdphong Visarathanonth’s example), and be prepared to look for these things away from the halo positions.

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