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What causes the spectacular bolts of crawler lightning to flash across the sky?

Tentacles of light flashed across the night sky over the weekend but what causes the spectacular crawler lightning?


Jackson Browne, meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, Darwin has shed some light on the issue.


He said crawler lightning appeared in the upper parts of thunderstorms — in the anvil — the flat expanse of cloud which spreads out at the top of a storm.


"Crawler lightning normally starts as what we call intracloud lightning — lightning that travels wholly within the cloud."


"Once [the lightning] gets into the upper reaches of the anvil it can spread out and become quite visually pleasing to look at."


Mr Browne is an expert in both weather and understatement.



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ABC Weather – 7 January 2019