Very bright sustained green glow in thunderclouds

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Offline escudo

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What caused this VERY bright, long-lived 'green glow'?
I've not seen any similar effect in thunderstorms before or since this observation. Is my hypothesis remotely correct? Is this a common meteorological event that just isn't observed very often from the ground? From aircraft?
LOCATION: (approx. Lat=N30deg, Long=W98deg)
Travis Lake, Austin, Texas, USA (central Texas)

An extremely intense thunderstorm was approaching. A weather warning had been issued by the National Weather Service (NWS). Strong winds had begun at my location, but no rain as yet. Thunderclouds coming from the North covered most of the observable sky, and reached high altitude. Clouds were exceptionally dark. Time approx 1 hour before sunset.

An extraordinarily bright green luminescence could be seen within the clouds at about a 45degree elevation. The storm was perhaps 4 miles away to the North (est. from incidence of lightning to sound). The glow lasted about 15 minutes from the time it was first noticed, dimming over time. It is not known whether it was obscured or if the phenomenon dissipated. It seemed as pure green as a semiconductor green laser. It had a generally centralized luminosity with the intensity fading after perhaps 20degrees in all directions from the apparent center. There were no other colors that might have been associated with a rainbow. No tornadoes were visible or in the NWS warnings.

My hypothesis is that it's caused by the ionization of free oxygen in the atmosphere. The oxygen could have been extant, created by intense electric fields and/or lightning strokes within the cloud, the further breakdown of ozone created during the storm, or the dissassociation of water into hydrogen and oxygen by electric fields. Perhaps the process involved in creating ozone produced the effect.

As yet, I've found nothing to explain this green glow other than some unsubstantiated folktales.

I've heard anecdotal comments about people seeing 'green sky' during tornadoes, but I've been within a mile of 3 tornadoes, and never seen any green sky. (Could a green glow near tornadic circulation be explained by particles in rotating air column producing static electricity which might ionize gases?)

Green glows have been observed in the atmospheres of other planets. These seemed attributed as due to the presence of oxygen in intense MAGNETIC fields, the magnetic fields distorting the solar charged particle flux, and creating an aurora-like effect. No mention of thunderstorms or dust-storm electric fields on those planets as causing the effect.

'Sprites', 'jets', etc. have been observed at extremely high altitudes associated with thunderstorms. This observation was too low for these, it lasted too long, and was on the 'wrong-side' of the storm clouds.


Offline itsjustme

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Re: Very bright sustained green glow in thunderclouds
« Reply #1 on: 07/10/2005 02:40:11 »
if different colors were seen in different areas then it is definately refraction (like a rainbow) but your hypothesis looks preety decent.


Offline AlphBravo

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Re: Very bright sustained green glow in thunderclouds
« Reply #2 on: 10/10/2005 01:02:47 »
Though often the green tinge is a sign of hail!
Does it then have to do with temperature?