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No. 64: Jul-Aug 1989

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Ball Lightning In Yorkshire

Ball lightning at Garton-on-the-Wold, Yorkshire
May 14, 1985. Yorkshire, England.

"At Garton-on-the-Wolds, two miles west-north-west of Driffield and 60 metres AMSL, the electricity went off at 6.l5 pm. Half an hour later Mr and Mrs Foster, who were in their paddock tending to the horses during the thunderstorm, heard a 'terrific bang.' On arriving back in their house they found that the television aerial had been blown out of its socket and there were scorch marks on the window sill and curtain lining. The television plug's negative and positive pins had been blown out of the socket but the earth pin was still intact. A hole some 8 cm by 10 cm across and 4 cm deep was found in the wall by the side of the socket. Several components of the television were damaged and fuses in the main fuse box were blown.
Also, at 6.45 pm, Mr and Mrs Foster's daughters, Rachel and Rosemary, were with a friend in the kitchen at the other side of the house. Rachel was standing with her hand on the cooker when, without warning she felt 'a sort of thump' in her back. The other two girls saw an orange, spherical object - about the size of a table tennis ball - moving very quickly. It had no smell, made no noise and seemed to be rotating. The ball of light did not harm Rachel's clothes but made a red, five-pointed star mark on her left shoulder blade which subsequently cleared the following day. The ball then fell onto the wet floor where it exploded 'with the noise of a shotgun' and 'like a firecracker' into many white stars. There were no burn marks on the floor although there was a smell of burning in the air - but this may have been the television."

(Sunderland, P.G.; "Ball Lightning in Yorkshire, May 1985," Weather, 43:343, 1988.)

Reference. Chapter GLB, in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras, describes several different kinds of ball lightning. For ordering information, see: here.

From Science Frontiers #64, JUL-AUG 1989. � 1989-2000 William R. Corliss