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Name: Adam L. D.
status      other
Status: N/A
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 11/14/2004


Question:
Hello, During a thunderstorm a bolt of lightning hit our back yard. Our neighbors dogs had been killed by the lightning so I went in the back yard to check on our dogs. I then saw a green glowing object on the ground. I picked it up and realized that it was a twig (probably pine). It looked phosphorescent in nature, but I can't be sure. It slowly lost its luminescence in my hand and looked like an ordinary stick. I am wondering what this might have been.


Replies:
Adam,

The phosphorescent green color that you saw is normally a description of ball lightning. Ball lightning may have rested on the twig and when you picked it up it had lost most of it's energy (I'm assuming this since you didn't say that the twig hurt you).

However, recent observations have shown that ball lightning, or the characteristics of it, can also be produced by a standard lightning bolt hitting the ground. Organic material (which the twig is), normally soil, can be energized and send out a small ball lightning. In your case, the twig itself may have been the organic material that was energized and thus produced the characteristic phosphorescent green color.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory


Dear Adam-

That is an interesting observation about the glowing twig. Was it the only one, or were there others..? It is possible that it was caused by a lightning strike, but there should be more evidence of a strike than one small glowing twig...

The bright flash or electrical current through the twig could possibly chemically react with some substance in the twig to make it phosphores I suppose, but I'm not aware of how common or rare this is...

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO


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