Lightning bolt strikes volcanic ash cloud in spectacular photo


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Extreme weather events don’t get any more badass than this, folks.

As lava spewed and plumes of ash rose more than a mile above Japan’s Sakurajima volcano, spectators in nearby villages watched in awe when a lightning storm appeared to form directly over the rupture.

One Reuters photographer with keen timing was able to capture the spectacular event — at one of the world’s most active volcanoes — in an image that depicts nature’s most powerful phenomena in an epic clash.

Volcanic lightning — which may appear to be striking down onto the volcano or up from its mouth — is not uncommon; however, scientists have yet to fully understand why it happens, as erupting volcanoes can be difficult to study up close, according to Live Science.

One theory goes that static electricity, caused by the colliding particles of billowing smoke clouds, prompts the bolt of energy — a process felt on a human scale via static jolts. Another rationale suggests that ice crystals bouncing about the stratosphere could also be rubbing against the high-flying ash and water vapor, in a physical (as in physics) reaction similar to how free-standing lightning storms occur.

There have been no reports of significant damage or injury to communities nearest to Sakurajima, according to local reports. Earlier this year, the Philippines’ Taal Volcano performed a similar light show — and forced some 300,000 residents to evacuate.

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