Nancy's Almanac, Aug. 22, 2013: A new breed of 'storm' chasing? - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 10:31 am
Nancy's Almanac, Aug. 22, 2013: A new breed of 'storm' chasing?

Not nearly as thrilling as storm chasing, but still challenging, is the idea of hunting for sprites, a hard-to-see, unusual type of lightning.

Sprites are virtually impossible to see from the ground because they are obscured by storm clouds, last only a few thousandths of a second and are relatively faint red in color.

Having said that, you can actually go sprite hunting — from the ground. And if you're patient enough to watch for meteors during meteor showers, you may have the makings of a sprite hunter. Here are tips from the University of Alaska: http://elf.gi.alaska.edu/

Their suggestions in a nutshell:

• On a night when powerful thunderstorms are forecast, head to a remote area about 100 miles to 200 miles away from the storm.

• Position yourself so that the storm is on the horizon and no clouds or lights obscure your view.

• Allow your eyes to adjust to the dark and try not to be distracted by the actual flashes of ground-level lightning.

• Watch for quick flashes of red high above the storm.

According to researchers at the University of Alaska, sprite hunters have a realistic chance of success.

Keep in mind that sprites only occur with about 10 percent of storms — those that are most powerful.


Current conditions and forecast

Contact the writer: Nancy Gaarder

nancy.gaarder@owh.com    |   402-444-1102    |  

Nancy writes about weather, including a blog, Nancy's Almanac. She enjoys explaining the science behind weather and making weather stories relevant in daily life.

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