Places with meteorological phenomena

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

Outstanding meteorological phenomena around the world


  • Lightning of Kifuka – Sud-Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Each km² around Kifuka is hit with lightning average 158 times per year. Thus Kifuka has the greatest lightning flash density in the world.


  • Dome A (Dome Argus) – Antarctica. Eventually the coldest place on Earth, located in Antarctic desert some 4090 m above the sea level. Coldest measured temperature is -83.5°C but it is expected that temperature here may fall even below -100°C.
  • Dome Valkyrie (Dome F, Dome Fuji) – Antarctica. Another contender for the coldest place on Earth, located in Antarctic desert some 3800 m above the sea level. The coldest measured temperature is -91.2°C, which is the world record.
  • Katabatic winds at Commonwealth Bay – Antarctica, some 15 km inland at Commonwealth Bay. Windiest place on Earth with very frequent storms. The speed of wind here occasionally exceeds 90 m/s – 320 km/h. These specific winds are called katabatic winds which might last for days. Fast moving ice crystals may cause unusual electric effects.
  • McMurdo Dry Valleys – Antarctica. Another contender for the honour of driest place on Earth, this valley has not seen rain for more than 2 million years. Any moisture is removed from here by extremely powerful winds.
  • Mount Asphyxia (Mount Curry) – Zavodovski Island, South Sandwich Islands. Volcano which rises 550 m tall. Often emits suffocating fumes, what, together with guano of some 2 million chinstrap penguins ((Pygoscelis antarctica) creates an unbearable stench.
  • Ridge A – Antarctica. Satellite data and climatic models show that this area has extremely clear sky and is the best suited place on Earth for astronomical research. Average winter temperature here is -70°C and it is possible that here might be experienced the lowest temperatures on Earth. This site also is very dry and devoid of wind. Ridge A is very remote place and most likely humans have not been there.


  • Chir Batti – Gujarat, India. Unexplained phenomenon – dancing lights seen in dark nights above Banni grasslands and Rann of Kutch salt flats. Known to local people since ancient times and multiple times seen also by foreign biologists.
  • Gandom Beryan in Lut Desert – Kerman, Iran. Lifeless desert with dark lava surface. According to the satellite data surface of this desert heats up to 71°C – what makes this the hottest land surface on Earth. The temperature of atmosphere here often is above 50°C and at summer night it still is above 40°C. This location is also considered to be the driest place on Earth – a competitor to Yungay region in Atacama Desert, Chile.
  • Markansu Desert (Valley of Tornadoes) – Gorno-Badakshan, Tajikistan. Broad, flat, almost lifeless plateau between mountain ridges, located at the height of 4 km above the sea level. Location with an extremely harsh climate, constant strong winds and storms. Very frequently can be observed dust devils and small tornadoes.
  • Mawsynram and Cherrapunji – Meghalaya, India. These two towns are located 15 km from each other and both have the highest officially measured rainfall in the world. Mawsynram gets 11,873 mm per year (20 times more than in London) and Cherrapunji nowadays gets a bit less rain – 11,430 mm. In some years rainfall is much higher – up to 24,555 mm in Cherrapunji. Most of the rain falls in June – August.
  • Naga fireballs of Mekong – Nong Khai, Thailand and Vientiane Province, Laos. Unique phenomenon – glowing reddish balls rising from the water of Mekong River and going upwards in the air. Local people even organize festivity at late nights of October to observe this weird sight. Sometimes there are seen thousands of such balls per night. It is possible that this is the combustion of gases emanating from the sediments of river.
  • Roopkund – Skeleton Lake – Uttarakhand, India. At this glacial lake at great height were found more than 500 skeletons of pilgrims. These people died here around the 12th – 15th century AD. Further studies of the damages to their skulls have shown that these people died from sudden hailstorm – there was no shelter and people died from falling iceballs.

Australia and Oceania

  • Ambrym volcano acid rain (Benbow Crater and Mbwelesu Crater) – Malampa, Ambrym island, Vanuatu. Acid rain formed by the gases from volcanic craters has burned approximately 100 km² large plain in the jungle of Vanuatu. Here live specially adapted organisms – insects, orchids.
  • Ka’u Desert – Hawai’i, Hawaiian Islands. Unusual natural phenomenon: a desert of dried lava that is devoid of any vegetation. Although the rainfall here exceeds 1,000 mm per year, the rain is acid due to nearby volcanic vents and this eliminates any plants. Often the area becomes dangerous due to poisonous gas blows.
  • Morning Glory of Carpentaria Gulf – Queensland and Northern Territory, Australia. A unique phenomenon, characteristic for the region at the southern part of Carpentaria Gulf. Here in springs early in the morning at special conditions form up to 1000 km long roll clouds, providing unique sight.


Hessdalen lights in February 2015. Two moving lights seen - one in the sky (this is not Moon) and one over the forest.
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.
  • Hessdalen lights – Sør-Trøndelag, Norway. In the valley of Hessdalen frequently are seen unexplained light phenomena. More than 20 years long scientific research of this phenomenon has not provided convincing explanation of this phenomenon.
  • Paasselkä devils – Southern Savonia, Finland. Light phenomena occasionally appearing above Lake Paasselkä and areas near it, mentioned since the 18th century. Usually it is ball of light which sometimes behaves as if has its own will. Paasselkä lake has formed in meteorite crater.
  • North America

    • Acid clouds of Poás Volcano – Alajuela, Costa Rica. At the summit of this volcano is located Laguna Caliente – one of the most acidic lakes in the world with pH near to 0. Around this lake and for several kilometres down from it all the vegetation is stunted brown and black by the extremely acid clouds from the summit of volcano.
    • Yoro Fish Rain (Lluvia des Peces) – Yoro, Honduras. For more than a century few times a year in May – July here is witnessed rain which leaves rather small but live fish of one certain freshwater fish species on the ground. Local people just gather the fish – it is very tasty! This phenomenon has no explanation yet.

    South America

    Catatumbo Lightning, Venezuela
    Catatumbo Lightning / Fernando Flores, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Catatumbo lightning (Lighthouse of Maracaibo) Zulia, Venezuela. In the marshy delta of Catatumbo River, during 140 – 160 days and nights (10 hours mainly in the afternoons) a year there is almost continuous powerful lightning. This location is the world’s most powerful generator of tropospheric ozone.
    • Yungay – Antofagasta, Chile. Part of Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world without any signs of life. Only few specific microorganisms – extremophiles – are present here. Some areas are rich with nitrates – easily soluble minerals which in other circumstances are consumed by organisms. Here rich nitrate deposits have been formed from atmospheric nitrogen, possibly by lightning. This unusual area is compared to conditions of Mars.
    • Lloro – Chocó Department, Colombia. This town has the highest average annual precipitation – 13,300 mm per year. Contrary to Cherrapunji and Mawsynram, here is not pronounced rain season – here it rains every day.

    Described sites with meteorological phenomena

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    Atacama desert - driest place on Earth
    Atacama desert – driest place on Earth / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Unusual weather conditions can happen in any place of the world. But there are locations where unusual meteorological phenomena are observed frequently – even every day.

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

    There are not too many landmarks in this category – but several of them – like Naga fireballs of Mekong or Morning Glory of Carpentaria Gulf – are highly unusual and unique.

    In general the sites of meteorological phenomena can be divided into three kinds:

    • Sites of weather extremes. Sometimes these are just figures – one certain locations has a bit higher mean annual precipitation than the other. But sometimes extreme weather conditions come with weird, unprecedented additional effects – like the unique nitrate deposits around Yungay in Chile.
    • Sites of earthlights. In some locations there on a regular basis are observed weird lights. This might sound like ghost story – but this happens in reality!
    • Other meteorological phenomena. So unique that they do not fit into any categories.

    Other articles about meteorological phenomena

    Recommended books

    Lights in the Sky: Identifying and Understanding Astronomical and Meteorological Phenomena

    Many lights and other objects in the sky go unrecognised, or at least are little understood by those observing them. Such things range from the commonplace like rainbows and meteors, to the distinctly unusual like the green flash and ball lightning. And there is still a residuum of objects that remain unidentified by the watcher – classed generally as ‘UFOs’, a description which today has connotations of the mysterious, even of extraterrestrial visitors.

    Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena

    Fine collection of oddball natural phenomena – an easy page-turner, good middle-ground between the paranormal and natural science. Genuine mysteries surround many of the luminous phenomena described in this volume, providing a fertile ground for scientific exploration.


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