A Rare Meteorological Phenomenon Called a Crown Flash

Daniel De Rose captures something quite extra ordinary and spectacular! It’s a rare phenomenon called a Crown Flash. This footage was captured in Stuart, Florida.

According to Wikipedia:

Crown flash is a rarely observed meteorological phenomenon involving " The brightening of a thunderhead crown followed by the appearance of aurora-like streamers emanating into the clear atmosphere".

The current hypothesis for why the phenomenon occurs is that sunlight is reflecting off or refracting through tiny ice crystals above the crown of a cumulonimbus cloud. These ice crystals are aligned by the strong electric field effects around the cloud, so the effect may appear as a tall streamer (with a curved shape at times), pillar of light, or resemble a massive flash of a searchlight/flashlight beam through the clouds. When the electric field is disturbed by electrical charging or discharging (typically, lightning flashes) within the cloud, the ice crystals are re-orientated causing the light pattern to shift, at times very rapidly and appearing to 'dance' in a strikingly mechanical fashion. The effect may also sometimes be known as a "leaping sundog". 

As with sundogs, the observer would have to be in a specific position to see the effect, which is not a self-generated light such as seen in a lightning strike or aurora, but rather a changing reflection/refraction of the sunlight.

Starting in 2009 several YouTube videos have since emerged that appear to document this phenomenon.


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