Sunday, August 19, 2007

Red Lightning

So, Deb and I were scheduled to leave between 1:00 and 2:00 yesterday afternoon. Surprisingly, we hit I70 about 5:15. This wasn't surprising because we were 3 to 4 hours behind schedule, but because we were ONLY 3 to 4 hours behind schedule. Deb is always, always late. Always. And, to add the good news, she called shortly before 1:00 to let me know how late she'd be. Ordinarily, I just hang around waiting til she shows. (She rarely answers her cell and almost never when she's late.)

So, we got off to a good start.

It takes about 5 hours to drive from KC to St. Louis. By dusk, we were watching the most fabulous lightning how I've ever seen. Hundreds and hundreds of strikes, most of it what we used to call heat lightning--waves of diffuse light rather than individual bolts. No rain and no thunder. The strikes were too far away for us to hear the thunder. As evening waned, lightning backlit the colors of the sunset so the flashes looked pink and purple and gold.

By the time darkness fell, the show got more dramatic. As we got closer, we began to see individual bolts. The biggest, brightest bolts I've ever seen, and each was of longer duration. We saw one bolt we felt sure hit something because it shimmered in the air for several seconds, trilling up and down from earth to sky. (This morning the STL news is full of the pictures of a historic church destroyed by lighting last night. ??)

We also saw red lighting. Stoplight red. Neon loosed in the sky. After the first bolt, we looked at each other in confusion and asked, "Did you see that? That red lighting?"

Later we saw a virtual starburst of red light in the distance. About 10 minutes after that burst, we began to hear thunder and 5 or 10 minutes after that drove into rain. Driving, streaming, pounding rain but hardly any lightning at that point. When we drove out of the rain about 20 minutes later, we started seeing lightning again, but the real show was over.

My bags had hardly hit the floor of the hotel room before I googled red lightning. Lots of theories, no real answers. If anyone knows anything definitive, be sure and leave a comment, would you? We did see discussions of "red sprites," those bursts of red light, so we know we didn't imagine it.

Silly me, initially I wanted to get here before dark. Thought it would be easier to find our way in an unknown area when we could see. And it would have been (especially because we were navigating construction-narrowed roads in driving rain), but we would have missed one of the most spectacular shows of our lives.

The Universe provdes, you know. It really does.

14 comments:

Suzy said...

I used to drink red lightnening in my early days.....

So glad you got to see the show!
So you should thank Deb for being late....

The universe does indeed provide.

XOXOXO
Suzy

Mystic Wing said...

What's even stranger than red lightning is your decision to go on a car trip alone with Deb.

ONe might think you perhaps lost a bet. Or are you just feeling masochistic these days?

Carrie Wilson Link said...

The late thing? OMG, don't know how you can even be on speaking terms with a person that arrogant, self-absorbed and totally rude! Glad the lightening show was great, but, KEY-RIST! I would lose my MIND dealing with someone like that! And to TRAVEL with them? Lord, have mercy!

Jess said...

Yeah, that late thing drives me crazy. I am usually late, but only 5-10mins. I dated someone who was always hours late. Killed me.

Sounds like a beautiful show!! Reminds me of a storm I drove through in Wyoming once...

kario said...

LOVE lightning and thunder storms! I love the smell, the electricity in the air, the shivers of excitement! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you. Your descriptions were delicious.

Hope it wasn't a portent of things to come between you and Deb on this trip...

Go Mama said...

A most dramatic road trip. Perhaps a wake-up call? With all those storm-brewed negative ions, it certainly gets one alert, alive, fully "in the body," you know?

Wonder what's next?

Kory said...

I am happy you are not fried! But it is cool to see such a show. Have you read The Ice Queen? It is about people who have been struck my lightening. Kind of mystical.

:)

Kory said...

Pft! That is me as "kory".

:) Amber

Deb said...

I am insanely jealous of your getting to witness such an incredible show. Lightning storms make me believe I can fly and rate right up there with warm winds as evidence of God's existence.

I've never seen red lightning but hope you'll share when you find out what it's about.

I can hardly wait to hear how the universe provides for the two of you for the rest of the trip. :)

Go Mama said...

Being the detail factoid google freak I am, here are a few "red sprite" lightning links to peruse:

http://elf.gi.alaska.edu/#chrspr

http://www.lightning.nmt.edu/sprites/sprites.html

http://www-star.stanford.edu/~vlf/optical/press/elves97sciam/

http://www.ess.washington.edu/Space/AtmosElec/spriteinfo.html

Happy reading!

Stacy said...

I loved "The Ice Queen"-Alice Hoffman
Thunderstorms with lightning are one of the only things worth being born for, if you ask me, but I can't say anything about red lightning, which you did ask about.

Stacy said...

PS-check your email i.e.-strange lightning

Kelsey Joseph said...

heyy just wanted to share my story. I was dating this amazing guy, Kyle, and he had this spot on a pond near his house in the middle of no where, so no one was ever there, during our first 2 months of dating we would go to this spot a lot, he had a boat that we would take to an island on the pond and we camped there on his graduation night which was awesome, and we had a rock that you could see the entire pond from, we went through the woods to get to the rock, it was right betweeen the end of the woods and the water. I'm a huge fan of thunder, lightning, and rain...especially at night, so one night we were at his house and it was just thunder and lighnting, no rain, so I had my genius idea of going to the pond to sit in the rock and watch the storm, he thought I was crazy, and u said I'm 16 of course i'm crazy, so we went to the rock anyway, cause apparently he loved me enough to go although it was a crazy idea, and the view was beautiful, just unbelieveable... We watched as the lightning lit up the entire pond, then it started to rain, he said that we should go but I said in a few more minutes, so we waited and right there in front of us was a huge flash of lightning it was beautiful I doubted my eyes but he was sticking with it, and whenever I told the story to someone they would say red lightning? I don't think so... Everyone doubted it,so I decided to look it up and this seemed like the only site with an answer so if you figure it out let me know! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I've seen a red flash a few times, when I was REALLY close to the lightening. Usually, I'm in the mountains and ducking cover because I can't get away from a storm. When it's right on top of me, the lightening flash is red. It means I'm too close, and I know it's very dangerous. I haven't see a red bolt from a distance, though.