Bolts of cloud-to-ground lightning are unleashed during a thunderstorm at dusk over Tucson, Ariz. (Ed Darack/SuperStock/Corbis)
Lightning streaks across the low-hanging clouds above the Financial District in Shanghai, China. One lightning bolt even connects with the spire of the Oriental Pearl Tower. (Reuters/Corbis)
Lightning strikes above the city of Zurich, Switzerland, giving the midnight sky a momentary, bright blue hue. (AP Photo/Keystone, Alessandro Della Bella)
One almost-impossibly-bright bolt of lightning strikes the Haitian city of Port-au-Prince. (EDUARDO MUNOZ/Reuters/Corbis)
While this may look like the end of days or a deleted scene from Ghostbusters, it is actually the fascinating and rare combination of two natural phenomena: A volcanic eruption and a lightning storm. On June 5, 2011, the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile became volatile for the first time in a decade. The beast belched ash six miles high into the sky while lightning danced around the top of the plume. Scientists have noted that only really large eruptions can generate such thunderbolts, but the origin of the powerful electric charges remains unknown. (REUTERS/Carlos Gutierrez)
Two types of lightning are at play in this storm over South Dakota: The sideways cloud-to-cloud lightning (on top) and the tentacle-like cloud-to-ground lightning (at bottom). (Mike Hollingshead/SuperStock/Corbis)
Lightning strikes the Wallraf Richartz Museum near the Cologne cathedral in Germany. (REUTERS)
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Here comes the Pentagon's newest space plane
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Extreme haunted houses: Inside Halloween's most terrifying new trend
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- How did Rick Perry escape blame for the Texas Ebola outbreak?
- America's anti-feminist mega-corporations' toxic disregard for women must stop
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- Keira Knightley on Laggies, relationships, and surviving your 20s
- This week I learned the surprisingly dark origins of the Nobel Prize, and more
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
Subscribe to the Week