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No. 120: Nov-Dec 1998

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Bouncing Ball Lightning

Autumn 1940, Berwyn Mountains, North Wales. The percipient in this unusual ball lightning sighting was a Mr. H, who was schoolmaster at Sandyhurst College.

"While out walking he was caught in a violent thunderstorm on the side of a hill with a scooped valley below. Ahead of him perhaps 300 feet distant, a bolt of lightning struck a tree with a sharp explosion of noise. Almost immediately a sphere six inches in diameter appeared from the direction of the strike and began to bounce across the ground towards him like a rubber ball. Climbing the hill under its own energy, the object rolled in a parabolic path and hit the ground every ten or twenty feet, climbing up to about three feet in height with each 'rebound'. Every time it hit the ground there was no sound, but a puff of greyish smoke or vapor was emitted. The object got to within about 50 feet of Mr. H before it suddenly vanished. This allowed him to have a good look at it at close proximity. He says that it was completely round and was a smokey-grey colour."

(Anonymous; "Ball Lightning in Lancashire and North Wales," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 23:139, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #120, NOV-DEC 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss