These 5 weather phenomena are some of the rarest on Earth

Mammatus clouds form over houses at sunset.
Mammatus clouds form over houses at sunset. (Getty Images)

After the Midwest experienced a derecho, a tornado tore through Central Florida and a fire tornado broke out in North California -- all in the last two weeks -- it got us thinking about some of the rare and interesting types of weather phenomena.

These are five of some of the rarest on earth.

1. Ball lightning

While scientists don’t fully understand ball lightning, and despite the fact that at least one study, according to National Geographic, theorized the sightings are hallucinations caused by magnetic fields during storms, most scientists seem to agree it is real.

The first sighting of ball lightning that was ever recorded was in 1638. The “great ball of fire” went through a window of an English church. That, and other early accounts, suggested ball lightning could be deadly.

One piece of research theorizes that ball lightning is the product of a reaction between oxygen and vaporized elements from soil caused by a lightning ground strike.

Another theory states that atmospheric ions pile up at the surface of a window, producing enough of an electrical field on the other side, which generates a discharge.

Ball lightning has also been associated with earthquakes.


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