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No. 55: Jan-Feb 1988

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Presumed Ball Lightning

November 24, 1987. Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"Circa 3:20 P.M. CST. Location: 2800 Southwest Blvd. in said city. Parents of Keith L. Partain saw a lightning strike near an oil refinery storage tank. Immediately after the strike they saw a bluish sphere with red and yellow highlights, not more than 9 feet in diameter, some 100 yards away, near the tank. The sphere lasted in that form some five seconds before fragmenting in a loud detonation. During the act of detonation the sphere became an irregular spheroid before fragmentation. Mr. Partain reported that he could feel the heat from the detonation. Both individuals, seated in a truck, were quite astounded by the apparition. The weather was quite stormy and violent in its gales, rain and lightning."

(Partain, Keith; personal communication, November 24, 1987.)

Comment. K. Partain checked the Catalog Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights and classified the phenomenon as GLB1 or Ordinary Ball Lightning. The above book is described here.

Ball lightning seen near Albany, New York. The ball lightning figured left was seen near an Albany, NY, factory in 1975. The event closely resembles that reported by the Partains.

From Science Frontiers #55, JAN-FEB 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987