Recently, I was flying out of the midwest during a lightning storm, and I was able to see lightning both above and below the clouds. I noticed that the lightning below the clouds was orangish/yellowish and traveled in closer to a straight line without very many forks, and often appeared to strike along virtually the same path multiple times in quick succession. It looked sort of like this.
enter image description here
The lightning above the clouds however, was more of a whitish/bluish color, had a lot of forks in it, and never seemed to follow the same path, though it did strike at about the same frequency. It looked much like this. enter image description here

One thing I did notice as well was that the yellowish lightning seemed mostly vertical, while the whitish lightning seemed mostly horizontal. Also, this occurred during the night, so there was no sunlight to change colors of anything.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Let me know if you need any more info about the lightning and stuff. Also, feel free to add tags or w/e. Not too familiar with your tags here. $\endgroup$
    – Dragonrage
    Jul 6 '16 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ The first picture with the orange highlighted clouds...was that at night? Not late late evening? How were the clouds highlighted like that? By the lightning? There are sprites above the clouds but I am confused by what you are saying is above and below? Was there a major city below, lighting those clouds in the first? $\endgroup$
    – stormy
    Jul 7 '16 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @stormy the first picture is the closest picture i could find with lightning the correct color and shape. I was not able to get my pictures to turn out that I took, so these pictures are simply the closest pictures I could find to demonstrate color and how they looked. $\endgroup$
    – Dragonrage
    Jul 7 '16 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ Sure as heck BEAUTIFUL! I used to try to photograph lightning and marvel when others can get breath-taking pictures like these. Have you read and seen the material about SPRITES? I think lightning is bright white. Any other color has got to be from atmospheric 'attenuation' chemistry of the immediate atmosphere...? You'll get these scary scientific smart guys on this site to answer this far better than me anyhoo. I love storms, I love lightning...fun question. My daddy was a pilot. Good job learning to FLY!! $\endgroup$
    – stormy
    Jul 7 '16 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ Believe it's about how much atmosphere the light passes through before getting to you. Lower lightning, or lightning further away, passes through more atmosphere. Thus high frequencies are scattered more, the same process as the coloration of a sunset. Higher lightning passes through less atmosphere. The small differences in height may not seem like much, but consider that half the entire atmosphere's mass is in about the lowest 20000 feet, that's a lot more air for a lower lightning bolt. And from a plane, higher bolts would pass through a ton less atmosphere compared to lower bolts. $\endgroup$ Jul 14 '16 at 9:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.