St. Elmo’s Fire

A photograph of the phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s Fire…St. Elmo’s Fire: Luminous greenish or bluish glow above pointed objects on the ground. Named for the patron saint of sailors, St. Elmo’s Fire is created by the soft glow of an electric field generated by a continuous flow of tiny sparks. The tiny sparks are postive charges reaching skyward in response to a growing area of negative charge in the clouds or air above. Instead of generating a lightning strike, the corona discharge, as it’s called, flees objects such the masts of ships, power poles, radio and TV antennas or towers, and the wings of aircraft, causing the glow. If a thunderstorm is nearby, St. Elmo’s Fire might precede a lightning strike close by.

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

Date: 07-10-03

Photographer: Cary Allen, Former Chief Meteorologist, WACH-TV

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