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10 locations with unusual meteorological events

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

WorldBlue  In short

There are rare locations in the world, where one can experience unique, highly unusual meteorological events.

Below you see a unique list of 10 such locations. Some of these phenomena have been explained, but for some explanation is still needed… or – maybe these are just legends.

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

Map of the sites

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WorldViolet List of the top 10 locations with unusual meteorological events


Catatumbo Lightning – most persistent thunderstorm

4.7 out of 10 stars 46.8%

Venezuela, Zulia

The most persistent and most spectacular thunderstorm in the world is Catatumbo Lightning. This is a 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 flashes of lightning are visible very far away in the Caribbean – even in the 500 km distant island of Aruba. Thus the second name of this phenomenon is Maracaibo Lighthouse. Hardly any human-built lighthouse can beat its 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.

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

Chir Batti

3.3 out of 10 stars 32.8%

India, Gujarat

Strange lights are seen over the vast plains south of 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, at 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 happens 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.


Hessdalen lights

5.1 out of 10 stars 50.9%

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 in the world.

Weird illuminations of Hessdalen continued nearly every night until the summer of 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.

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

Markansu Desert – Valley of Tornadoes

3.6 out of 10 stars 36.0%

Tajikistan, Kuhistoni-Badakhshon Autonomous 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 northeastern part of Pamir. But this was a 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 a somber feeling.

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

Morning Glory of Carpentaria Gulf

5.3 out of 10 stars 52.5%

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.

Morning Glory cloud, Queensland
Morning Glory cloud, Queensland / Ulliver, Wikimedia Commons, 11 August 2009, public domain

Naga fireballs of Mekong

4.2 out of 10 stars 42.3%

Thailand, Nongkhai and Laos, Vientiane Province

Weird things are happening some 70 – 100 kilometers downstream from Vientiane – the capital of Laos. In the nights from the muddy waters of the 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 a basketball.

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

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

Paasselkä devils

4 out of 10 stars 40.0%

Finland, Southern Savonia

There was a time when locals living around Lake Paasselkä (earlier – Paasivesi) did not turn much attention to the lights hovering 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 phenomenon is very intriguing. It is observed rather often nowadays as well.

Paasselkä Devil looks like a ball of bright light hovering 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 fishermen, it has been also observed that lights evade the beam of the torch.


Poás Volcano and Laguna Caliente – site with the most acid rain

5 out of 10 stars 50.3%

Costa Rica, Alajuela

Around the acid crater lake of Poás Volcano the acidity of fog and rain is around 2.0 pH and maybe 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 the vicinity the farm equipment, cars, and home utensils 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.

Laguna Caliente in Poás crater in white color
Laguna Caliente in Poás crater in white color / Richie Diesterheft, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Roopkund – Skeleton Lake

4 out of 10 stars 39.7%

India, Uttarakhand

There is a 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 pilgrims headed towards Nanda Devi shrine. According to a legend they were punished by Goddess Nanda Devi for the desecration of this sacred spot of Himalaya.

The mysterious Roopkund Lake, India
The mysterious Roopkund Lake / Schwiki, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Yoro Fish Rain

3.7 out of 10 stars 37.3%

Honduras, Yoro

Near Yoro town there happens 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, the people of Yoro pick up baskets and run out to the swampy meadows of La Pantanal at the foot of the 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 a specific taste, different from the taste of common fish.

WorldYellow Recommended books

The Exo-Weather Report

David Stevenson’s new book links the meteorology of the Earth to that of other planets, stars, and clusters of galaxies, showing the similarities and differences between terrestrial weather and that of weather on other worlds. Because Earth is not unique in having weather, there is much to learn from other planets with atmospheres that show the movement of energy from hotter to colder areas.

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