There are other types of natural phenomena related to thunderstorms. Two of the most curious are the scintillation, also known as globular lightning, and the sprite.


The scintillation or globular lightning is a natural phenomenon of spherical and bright shape, which appears during thunderstorms. It, unlike common lightning, is persistent.

The scintillation is extremely unusual. In addition, many of the details that appear in the reports of the people who have witnessed them, are totally opposite.

According to witnesses, these discharges have a spheroidal or ovoid shape, very luminous and bright. They can remain motionless suspended in the air, move slowly or quickly and glide as if attracted by some object or in a completely random way. Their dimensions are usually between 10 and 40 cm. They can make hissing, abnormal sounds or no sound at all. After a few seconds, the discharge disappears by dispersing or, rarely, with an explosion.

In 1638, the first documented case of a lightning flash occurred in a village in the southwest of England. One of these destroyed the roof of St. Pancrazio’s church during the Great Thunderstorm.

Lightning was considered a myth for many years. Despite this and the fact that many of the characteristics of this particular phenomenon are still unknown, such as the longevity of its existence or why it floats in the air, it is now recognized as a real type of discharge.


Duende is a mysterious electrical phenomenon that occurs above storm systems, even reaching the stratosphere. Their diameter can be up to tens of km. It has not yet been possible to explain their nature.

They appear immediately after the positive cloud-to-ground lightning, which accounts for only 5-10% of all lightning.

The first reports of their existence date back to 1886. The Nobel laureate in physics Charles Wilson had already announced, in theory, the presence of this phenomenon in 1925, but their existence was doubtful until July 6, 1989, when they were accidentally recorded by physicist John R. Winkler and his team.

Following this, the elves have been studied to know their characteristics, understand their appearance and assess the risk they pose.

Teams of atmospheric researchers have been able to identify, thanks to technology, different types of electrical discharge on clouds related to this phenomenon, baptized as “elves” and “blue jets”, although elves are the most common.