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Top 10 locations with unusual meteorological phenomena

10 locations with unusual meteorological phenomena

Catatumbo Lightning
Catatumbo Lightning / Thechemicalengineer, Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

There are rare locations in the world, where one can experience unique, highly unusual phenomena related to meteorology.

Below you see unique list of 10 such locations. Some of these phenomena have been explained, but some have no explanation.

All these monuments belong to the category of Sites of meteorological phenomena.


1. Catatumbo Lightning - most persistent thunderstorm

Catatumbo Lightning, Venezuela
Catatumbo Lightning / Fernando Flores, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Venezuela, Zulia

The most persistent and most spectacular thunderstorm in the world is Catatumbo Lightning. This is nearly continuous thunderstorm with up to 20,000 flashes of lightning per night, seen 140 - 160 nights per year and lasting approximately 10 hours long. It produces approximately 10% of tropospheric ozone in the world.

Contrary to usual thunderstorms Catatumbo Lightning always is in the same place and can be observed 140 - 160 nights per year, 10 hours long.

This inaudible thunderstorm resembles a giant strobe light with up to 20,000 flashes per night. Thanks to clear sky lightnings are visible very far away in the Caribbean - even in the 500 km distant island of Aruba. Thus the second name of this phenomena is Maracaibo Lighthouse. Hardly any human built lighthouse can beat the power of it!

We do not know when started the Catatumbo Lightning started but this phenomenon has become a part of the tales of indigenous people.

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2. Chir Batti

India, Gujarat

Strange lights are seen over the vast plains south from Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, India. These "ghost lights" are not explained and represent round or pear shaped balls of fire, glowing like mercury lamps. They are floating above the ground, in 0.6 - 3 m height. Sometimes they are moving around slowly, sometimes - fast as arrows.

Especially weird is the interaction of lights with visitors. If one walks away, Chir Batti happen to follow him. Around Kiro hill they may follow up to the nearby Fulay village. But it is never heard that balls of light have done any harm.

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3. Hessdalen lights

Hessdalen lights in February 2015, Norway
Hessdalen lights in February 2015. Two moving lights seen - one in the sky (this is not Moon) and one over the forest. / Jesper Brodersen, screen capture from Youtube video.

Norway, Sør-Trøndelag

Hessdalen became internationally renowned when in December 1981 something unusual started - some 15 - 20 times per week spooky, big and bright balls of light appeared above the valley. Sometimes these balls were standing still for more than one hour, sometimes they were slowly floating around. There were times when the light moved very fast. At one time radar fixed 8 500 m/s fast movement: 8 - 9 times faster than the fastest airplane of the world.

Weird illuminations of Hessdalen continued nearly every night until summer 1984 and lots of tourists came here to see this marvel. Then the activity decreased and now the lights are observed some 10 - 20 times per year. Scientific laboratories have been installed and the lights are intensely researched.

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4. Markansu Desert - Valley of Tornadoes

Storm in Markansu dry valley, Tajikistan
Dust storm in Markansu dry valley - Valley of Tornadoes / rugbyxm, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Tajikistan, Kuhistoni-Badakhshon Autonomus Province

In order to reach the Tarim basin, the caravans of the Great Silk Road had a choice - to walk through the dry flats in the north-eastern part of Pamir. But this was tough choice - in these weird flats countless dust devils rise. They reach the strength of tornadoes and are very dangerous - there are reports about camels with all their burdens lifted by winds. People believed that these are real, fearsome spirits - jinns.

No wonder that for centuries the ancient road was lined with corpses of dead pack-animals. Also nowadays Markansu desert leaves sombre feeling.

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5. Morning Glory of Carpentaria Gulf

Morning Glory clouds, Queensland
Morning Glory clouds, Queensland / Wikimedia Commons by Mick Petroff, 11 August 2009, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Australia, Queensland and North Australia

This is the only place in the world, where extremely unusual weather phenomenon - morning glory can be observed on a regular basis.

Morning glory happens early in the morning, when above the surprised spectators "roll" over one or few roll clouds - long, low, narrow clouds resembling giant, up to 1,000 km long ropes.

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6. Naga fireballs of Mekong

Naga lights rise above Mekong
Naga fireballs / Image from Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Thailand, Nongkhai and Laos, Vientiane Province

Weird things are happening some 70 - 100 kilometres downstream from the Vientiane - capital of Laos. In the nights from the muddy waters of Mekong river appear red glowing balls which quickly rise up in the air and disappear without noise (some, who manage to be close to the lights, report silent hiss). These mysterious sparkles are small, but sometimes they reach a size of an basketball.

These are not some ghosts seen by occasional people and questioned by majority. Ghost fireballs of Mekong have been seen by thousands of people, photographed and captioned on movies and, after all, investigated by scientists looking for the explanation of this interesting phenomenon.


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7. Paasselkä devils

Finland, Southern Savonia

There was a time when locals living around Lake Paasselkä (earlier - Paasivesi) did not turn much attention to the lights howering above this large lake. Paasselkä Devil was just a play of spirits, who should care about them?

Nowadays, when we don't believe in spirits, this light phenomena is very intriguing. It is observed rather often nowadays as well.

Paasselkä Devil looks like a ball of bright light howering above the lake. The light is very bright, much more powerful than the distant lights of car headlamps, driving along the lake.

It can be calm, resembling a bright lantern - but light might start to move very quickly.

Sometimes these lights behave as if they have their own will. They might follow the boats of fisherman, it has been also observed that lights evade from the beam of torch.

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8. Poás Volcano and Laguna Caliente - site with the most acid rain

Laguna Caliente in Poas crater in white color
Laguna Caliente - lake of pure acid in Poás crater / Richie Diesterheft, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Costa Rica, Alajuela

Around the acid crater lake of Poás Volcano the acidity of fog and rain is around 2.0 of pH and may be even less. As a result around the crater and to the west from it there has formed some 3.5 km long and 1 km wide, lifeless, naked scar surrounded by jungle.

Effects of the volcanic acid rain extend far beyond this scar. In vicinities the farm equipment, cars and home untensils become rusty, roofs of the buildings are damaged. Often tourists have been rescued from the nature trails to avoid potential health problems due to acid fog - sometimes tourists have been running out of the fog coughing and with runny eyes.

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9. Roopkund - Skeleton Lake

Human bones at the Roopkund Lake, India
Human bones at the Roopkund Lake / Schwiki, , CC BY-SA 4.0

India, Uttarakhand

There is mysterious lake in the magnificent Gharval Himalaya - Roopkund. For more than 1000 years around the lake lie several hundreds of dead people which most likely died in an extreme hailstorm.

Somewhere around 850 AD here was killed a large group of local and foreign piligrims heading towards Nanda Devi shrine. According to a legend they were punished by Goddess Nanda Devi for desecration of this sacred spot of Himalaya.

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10. Yoro Fish Rain

Honduras, Yoro

Near Yoro town there happens a heavy rain in May - July. That would be nothing too special - but after this rain countless small, living fishes are left jumping in the fields as if they have fallen from the sky.

As the storm leaves, people of Yoro pick up baskets and run out to the swampy meadows of La Pantanal at the foot of extinct volcano El Mal Nombre (Bad Word). Hundreds and even thousands of jumping, live fish are found in the wet meadows as if fallen from the sky during the storm. People collect the fish to bring it home and eat - fish is told to have specific taste, different from the taste of common fish.

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