People generally place the natural world in high esteem. Property values are high near parks. “Getting back to nature” is considered a good thing. Even our screensavers and desktop backgrounds show vistas of rolling hills, sunshine or the aurora borealis. But we usually gloss over the fact that while Mother Nature is normally a very sweet lady, she can sometimes go off the deep and blow your mind… or ruin your shit, as evidenced by this nonet of natural madness.
While not as mysterious as some of the other entries you’ll see on this list, fire tornadoes are among the most badass examples of extreme weather… proof that Mother Nature remembers her younger days and still likes to get crazy from time to time. When wildfire meets tornado, the fire and the fuel can go airborne, creating a swirling vortex of pure, lethal awesomeness. Naturally the high winds can help spread fire, help it burn and make it unpredictable, so you should probably stick to observing them via YouTube for now.
Thunder and lightning storms are a hallmark of summer in many areas of the world, but the conditions that produce them are rarely found in winter months. But every once in a while that norm goes right out the window. The right humidity, air instability and updrafts, as well as the dampening effect of snowfall generally make thundersnow a once-in-a-lifetime event to witness, even for seasoned professionals.
The exact cause of the shimmering lights that sometimes appear before some heavy seismic activities is currently unknown. It was never properly documented until recently, and was therefore treated as something of a myth and has still never been directly verified by in a controlled experiment either. The new abundance of cameras in the kinds of places that experience serious earthquakes has lead to more documentation. Radon, magnetic fields, ionosphere disruption, magical leprechauns or electric fields from quartz crystals have all been suggested as possible causes.
Upper Atmosphere Lightning
Four distinct phenomena for the price of one! Lightning itself can be difficult to study, given our poor understanding of its causes and the fact it only makes split second appearances. However, at least four additional, mysterious examples of electrical discharges have been observed higher in the atmosphere during storm events: sprites, jets, halos and elves. Sprites are reddish-orange or greenish-blue discharges 50-90 miles above the surface that vary in appearance with arching tendrils and branches.
Jets, often blue jets, are cones that are emitted from the top of certain storm clouds 25-30 miles above the surface. Halos are… well… halo-shaped emissions, often associated with sprites. Elves consist of a flat, eerie glow that expands to about 250 miles in diameter, around 60 miles above the surface, usually reddish in color. Naturally, all of these marvels exist for milliseconds.
A favorite of conspiracy theorists and alien enthusiasts, the Naga Fireballs traditionally appear at the Mekong River in Thailand and Laos, usually during the Buddhist Lent in late October or thereabout, as well as May and other times of the year. The small fireballs mysteriously launch over 100 feet in the air, though the source is currently unknown. Debate continues over whether a surreptitious human ruse is actually at play, or if one of numerous theories of natural mechanisms, such as methane escaping from the river bottom, are correct.