UPDATE (2-Oct02016): Frankie Lucena has captured more incredible sprites, this time as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Check it out from the Weather Channel.
A sprite (lightning) captured on camera from the Caribbean on September 18, 2016 has triggered posts on mystery-mongering fringe “news” sites that cater to end-of-the-world paranoia.
Sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur above thunderstorm clouds typically as flashes but they look far weirder than bolt lightning. They were documented clearly only in 1989 but now, since sprites are somewhat predictable, we know where to look and additional visual documentation has been captured.
Frankie Lucena took a video of a sprite in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico and posted his report to SpaceWeather. This large discharge is called a “jellyfish” type. Others liken it to resembling an atomic blast. Those two shapes immediately fuel speculation that something terrible and secret is happening in the atmosphere. But sprites are all-natural and pretty darn cool.
The report on the Space Weather site quotes Oscar van der Velde, a member of the Lightning Research Group at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya:
“This type of sprite is often called ‘jellyfish’ or ‘A-bomb,’ and ranks as the largest type of sprite in both horizontal and vertical dimensions,” he says. “It consists of a bright halo approximately 85 km above Earth’s surface surrounding sprite elements with long tendrils reaching down as low as ~30 km above ground level.”
“This kind of sprite tends to be triggered by a very impulsive positive cloud-to-ground flash,” van der Velde adds.
The video of the event is here:
Sites like JewWorldOrder, Sign of the Times (SOTT), Strange Sounds in the Sky, and State of Globe repeated the story (verbatim) from each other. [JWO and SOG got theirs from SOTT who repeated from SSS. How original!] Each of these sites spin their stories with a suggestion that [bad] “Earth changes” or a [treacherous] New World Order is coming based on reported anomalies or conspiracy allegations. There are no basis to such claims and these sites almost never explain the facts behind these interesting events.
Sprites have been reported for hundreds of years, way before space travel, but they require particular conditions to be viewed and special camera equipment to capture. Technology provided us with the means to document and study sprites. Technology improvements, ironically, also provide these fringe news sites with capability to quickly share their claims and make their ominous-tinged ideas seem more prevalent and credible than they are. Sprites in no way signal the end of the world and it’s too bad the science gets lost in the silliness.