Electric Hurricanes - Mysterious lightning
Electric Hurricanes. Three of the most powerful hurricanes of 2005 were filled with mysterious lightning. science.nasa.gov
The eye of Hurricane Emily photographed from the International Space Station
January 9, 2006: The boom of thunder and crackle of lightning generally mean one thing: a storm is coming. Curiously, though, the biggest storms of all, hurricanes, are notoriously lacking in lightning. Hurricanes blow, they rain, they flood, but seldom do they crackle.
Surprise: During the record-setting hurricane season of 2005 three of the most powerful storms--Rita, Katrina, and Emily--did have lightning, lots of it. And researchers would like to know why.
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A hurricane's winds are mostly horizontal, not vertical. So the vertical churning that leads to lightning doesn't normally happen.
Above: An infrared GOES 11 satellite image of Hurricane Emily. Yellow + and - symbols mark lightning bolts detected by the North American Lightning Detection Network. The green line traces the path of the ER-2. Click to view electric fields measured by the aircraft during the flight.