Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Have You Seen a St Elmo's Fire?
When I was a teenager growing up in Iloilo, Philippines, I saw a St Elmo's fire that almost scared me to death. It was rainy season in the Philippines at that time, thus thunderstorm was common. I remember it has rained continuously for more than two days one weekend. I was getting bored being coped inside the house. I decided to walk from our backyard towards the river in the gentle rain with thunder and lightning not far from our house. All of a sudden I saw a blueish light on the top of big banaba tree with a hissing sound. The banaba tree is where the aswang( witches) resides. The light appeared like it was dancing. I ran as fast as I could back to the house.
St Elmo's fire is called Santermo by the locals. The locals believe that the Santermo is a devil incarnate and has to be avoided at all times. The locals also believe it is a soul of the dead trying to communicate with the living. This is one experience I will never forget. So what is St Elmo's fire? Here's some information from Wikipedia.
St. Elmo's fire (also St. Elmo's light) is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere (such as those generated by thunderstorms or created by a volcanic eruption).
St. Elmo's fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formiae (also called St. Elmo, one of the two Italian names for St. Erasmus, the other being St. Erasmo), the patron saint of sailors. The phenomenon sometimes appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded by sailors with religious awe for its glowing ball of light, accounting for the name. Because it is a sign of electricity in the air and interferes with compass readings, some sailors may have regarded it as an omen of bad luck and stormy weather. Other references indicate that sailors may have actually considered St. Elmo's fire as a good omen (as in, a sign of the presence of their guardian saint).
Physically, St. Elmo's fire is a bright blue or violet glow, appearing like fire in some circumstances, from tall, sharply pointed structures such as lightning rods, masts, spires and chimneys, and on aircraft wings. St. Elmo's fire can also appear on leaves, grass, and even at the tips of cattle horns. Often accompanying the glow is a distinct hissing or buzzing sound. It is sometimes confused with ball lightning.
Conditions that can generate St.Elmo's fire are present during thunderstorms, when high voltage differentials are present between clouds and the ground underneath. Air molecules glow owing to the effects of such voltage, producing St. Elmo's fire.
Have you seen a St Elmo's fire? If so, I like to hear from you.