Alternate Perceptions Magazine, November 2018
Ball Lightning Storm of 1984
by: Keith Annis
Keith Annis Ball Lightning pages 5 to 7
Keith Annis Ball lightning pages 8 to10
In Coldwater, Ontario, Canada, I had been reading in my upstairs bedroom and noticed lightning flashes in my window around 10 p.m. I had always liked watching lightning and so I went outside to the backyard thinking that I woould see some cloud-to-cloud lightning as there were no loud bangs going on.
I first noticed that there was no rain or air movement at ground level. It stayed like this throughout the entire storm. No moon was ever seen either.
There was a very flat bottomed fog layer just above treetop level. The fog was very thin and was surrounding a much thicker cloud that was low to the ground. I saw that I was right near the edge of the storm as I could see clear sky and stars right behind me. The dog was right at the storm – at least where I was situated.
Within 5 seconds of looking up I saw this extreme different lightning that I had never seen before and it lit up the surrounding area around it. This lightning was a single, curving, unbranched stream that had started just above a small cloud in the fog not far away and circled right around the bottom and over to the opposite side. It was here that the stream suddenly stopped and opened up forming an unusual shape that looked a bit like that of the tiger lily flower but with skinnier petals with very pointed tips.
I then quickly went over to the cemetery next to our property to get a much wider view of the sky and less trees in the way. I noticed that the front of the storm had already gone past a little.
I saw about six more of these streams before one of them shot out a perfectly round ball of lightning at high speed for what looked to be over 100 feet. The ball looked very much like it was spinning. It also looked to be between bowling ball to possible beach ball in size, though it was hard to tell at night. The ball was created while the stream was still connected above the top of the single cloud. The ball slowed down fast and came to a stop, not moving at all for 2 to 3 seconds. It then faded away.
Altogether I saw around 20 lightning balls, all the same color as ordinary lightning. Four of these balls exploded into small ragged fragments making no sound. The streams always made a sound. The ones close by made a sizzling jet sound for 4 to 5 seconds. The streams farther away made a very distinctive thunk or a longer thunking-type sound.
When the storm moved further on I noticed that the fog had lifted close to the top of the storm, giving me a much better view; especially when the lightning would light everything up. It revealed that the lightning streams were only occurring around small, dense, single and separated clouds that were in single file close to the side of a large fairly straight-sided, low-lying solid cloud mass that was headed northeast very slowly. The thin fog was still around the top of the single clouds and large cloud mass.
I could see through spaces in the trees in the distance that there was lightning streams about 3 miles or so away in the north, northwest direction all occurring around the same distance away from me in single file, parallel to my side of the storm. I was then convinced that this was probably the other side of the storm. There was also a small bit of lightning at the very back of the storm near the other side.
When the last single cloud went by the lightning ended. The large central cloud mass was still passing by, but there was no lightning anywhere in it.
It was then that I realized that all those lightning streams seen around the whole storm was most likely happening in single, separated clouds, and that this type of rare lightning must require them to exist. The dog probably played a role too.
There was never any other type of lightning ever seen or heard in this storm. The streams on my side of the storm quickly avoided entering any cloud, and when they went around the bottom of a cloud they were always heading straight forward or straight backwards – never towareds the center or outwards. The streams on the other side of the storm appeared to be doing the same thing. The stream bottoms at the front of the storm appeared to be going straight forward or angling outwards a bit.
Some of the very distant angled streams circling under the clouds looked broken up, appearing like a string of dangling pearls.