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My Ball Lightning Experience

guitarh

Fresh Blood
Joined
Jun 8, 2023
Messages
16
Hi everyone, I'm a longtime lurker and new member. I have two really good stories you might enjoy, one happened to me, and another happened to a friend. I should say upfront I am a skeptic, I don't believe in the paranormal (No offence to anybody who does believe, I respect everyone's opinions!). But I have a passing interest in this sort of thing after an incident with ball lightning that happened to me in the 1990s. I'm 100% certain my incident can be explained scientifically. But it made me realise there are some things in this world we are yet to fully understand.

My ball lightning experience: I was a university student in mid 1990s. It was winter (I think worth noting the cold weather), and around 6pm/7pm. It was dark and I was watching TV. Our house was old (this is relevant because it had some gaps in the floor and window frames). Our TV was on a table in the corner of the room. I should describe the two walls that formed this corner: One wall featured a built-in bookcase that lined the entire wall, including some of the space behind the TV. The other wall had large windows. So if you can imagine, the left side of the TV has bookshelves behind it, and the right side of the TV has a large window behind it. Also, on our bookcase behind the TV was an orange plastic lamp from the 70s....

Anyway, at some point around 6pm or so I remember noticing a bright light was shining immediately behind the TV, sitting low and partially obscured. The light was inside our living room. I thought it was our 70s plastic lamp, and I remember thinking "somebody has turned that lamp on, I wonder why?". Being a lazy university student, I did nothing about the lamp apparently being on, and just accepted it... This light stayed there for what must have been another hour or so - I remember leaving the living room to get some dinner & feeding our dog, etc. And when I returned, the light was still there. I continued watching TV. It has hard to explain, but I was merely noticing the light out of the corner of my eye & didn't think too much about it. By this time it was probably 7pm/8pm. Suddenly I noticed the light was brighter and it had risen up in the air - it definitely was not our lamp! It was a ball of light that was hovering over 1 meter above the ground. It was perfectly round, and smaller than a basketball but bigger than a grapefruit. It looked the same luminescence as a light globe, that yellow/orange colour. It was silent. All this happened very quickly. I remember a sudden huge amount of fear as I focused all my attention on the object - realising what I was looking at, it was very scary. But at the same time, I had no doubt I was looking at something electrical. Maybe because of the similarity to the brightness of a light bulb?

We had a relative visiting from overseas. She was in the living room with me when this happened, she witnessed it too. I said something along the lines of "WTF is that???" and our relative said the same! We were pretty speechless. But then something dramatic happened - the ball started moving in a perfect straight line across the room. It moved a distance of maybe 1.5 metres, and then it suddenly popped and disappeared. When it had started moving, I felt incredibly scared because this thing looked dangerous. I yelled something like "Don't touch it!" or "Don't go near it!", just before it popped. It did not make any noise when it popped either. And interestingly, a line of light was traced in a perfect circle when it popped. This gave me the strong impression it was hollow inside, like a bubble popping. At all times I was sure I was witnessing something electrical (this wasn't reassuring though, because it seemed to be dangerous).

We had made such a commotion, my father came into the room to see what had happened. I investigated the back of the TV set, thinking maybe it had something been an electrical discharge from the rear grill of the TV set (ludicrous idea I know). While looking at the back of the TV, and searching for possible explanations, I noticed how the window frames in the wall were old and had small gaps in some places. I tried to remember seeing anything earlier that evening that might explain it, but I just remember seeing the light starting small behind the TV and thinking it was the lamp. I was left with the impression that the ball of light had grown in size over 2 or 3 hours. Who knows how long it had been there? My theory is it must have entered via the window, small in size, and started to grow.

The next day, I asked our relative about what happened. She said "Oh my god that was the scariest thing I have ever seen, I don't want to talk about it anymore". And that was that, she refused to talk about it. Early 2000s, I searched the internet and found many cases when ball lightning enters into a house via the window. Can you imagine how relieved I felt to read that!!!! Also, there is a famous photo of alleged ball lightning that does indeed look similar to what I witnessed - the photo is taken in Japan near a train level crossing.

EDIT: this is the photo that reminds me of what I saw:

ball-lightning.jpg
 
Hi everyone, I'm a longtime lurker and new member. I have two really good stories you might enjoy, one happened to me, and another happened to a friend. I should say upfront I am a skeptic, I don't believe in the paranormal. But I have a passing interest in this sort of thing after an incident with ball lightning that happened to me in the 1990s. I'm 100% certain my incident can be explained scientifically. But it made me realise there are some things in this world we are yet to fully understand.
My ball lightning experience: I was a university student in mid 1990s. It was winter (I think worth noting the cold weather), and around 6pm/7pm. It was dark and I was watching TV. Our house was old (this is relevant because it had some gaps in the floor and window frames). Our TV was on a table in the corner of the room. I should describe the two walls that formed this corner: One wall featured a built-in bookcase that lined the entire wall, including some of the space behind the TV. The other wall had large windows. So if you can imagine, the left side of the TV has bookshelves behind it, and the right side of the TV has a large window behind it. Also, on our bookcase behind the TV was an orange plastic lamp from the 70s.... Anyway, at some point around 6pm or so I remember noticing a bright light was shining immediately behind the TV, sitting low and partially obscured. The light was inside our living room. I thought it was our 70s plastic lamp, and I remember thinking "somebody has turned that lamp on, I wonder why?". Being a lazy university student, I did nothing about the lamp apparently being on, and just accepted it... This light stayed there for what must have been another hour or so - I remember leaving the living room to get some dinner & feeding our dog, etc. And when I returned, the light was still there. I continued watching TV. It has hard to explain, but I was merely noticing the light out of the corner of my eye & didn't think too much about it. By this time it was probably 7pm/8pm. Suddenly I noticed the light was brighter and it had risen up in the air - it definitely was not our lamp! It was a ball of light that was hovering over 1 meter above the ground. It was perfectly round, and smaller than a basketball but bigger than a grapefruit. It looked the same luminescence as a light globe, that yellow/orange colour. It was silent. All this happened very quickly. I remember a sudden huge amount of fear as I focused all my attention on the object - realising what I was looking at, it was very scary. But at the same time, I had no doubt I was looking at something electrical. Maybe because of the similarity to the brightness of a light bulb? .... We had a relative visiting from overseas. She was in the living room with me when this happened, she witnessed it too. I said something along the lines of "WTF is that???" and our relative said the same! We were pretty speechless. But then something dramatic happened - the ball started moving in a perfect straight line across the room. It moved a distance of maybe 1.5 metres, and then it suddenly popped and disappeared. When it had started moving, I felt incredibly scared because this thing looked dangerous. I yelled something like "Don't touch it!" or "Don't go near it!", just before it popped. It did not make any noise when it popped either. And interestingly, a line of light was traced in a perfect circle when it popped. This gave me the strong impression it was hollow inside, like a bubble popping. At all times I was sure I was witnessing something electrical (this wasn't reassuring though, because it seemed to be dangerous).... We had made such a commotion, my father came into the room to see what had happened. I investigated the back of the TV set, thinking maybe it had something been an electrical discharge from the rear grill of the TV set (ludicrous idea I know). While looking at the back of the TV, and searching for possible explanations, I noticed how the window frames in the wall were old and had small gaps in some places. I tried to remember seeing anything earlier that evening that might explain it, but I just remember seeing the light starting small behind the TV and thinking it was the lamp. I was left with the impression that the ball of light had grown in size over 2 or 3 hours. Who knows how long it had been there? My theory is it must have entered via the window, small in size, and started to grow.... The next day, I asked our relative about what happened. She said "Oh my god that was the scariest thing I have ever seen, I don't want to talk about it anymore". And that was that, she refused to talk about it. Early 2000s, I searched the internet and found many cases when ball lightning enters into a house via the window. Can you imagine how relieved I felt to read that!!!! Also, there is a famous photo of alleged ball lightning that does indeed look similar to what I witnessed - the photo is taken in Japan near a train level crossing. EDIT: I don't know if links are allowed here, but this is the photo that reminds me of what I saw:
https://www.almanac.com/sites/default/files/d6/images/ball-lightning.jpg
My last encounter, (might have already posted this encounter earlier - some years back now) with something very like this, though outside, down in a local valley where a small stream runs through the lowest part of it.
I was walking towards the bendy bit of the local valley road, it was dark, (at night wintertime) I happened to look down through the dark shadowy tree trunks into the valley bottom below, and I couldn't help but notice that there was a pretty large ball of light just sitting right on top of the streams position. It didn't move, the orange coloured light was fuzzy around it's perimeter with a dark centre part.
I didn't stop to observe it however, (I don't know why I didn't) though, when I looked back to see if it was still there, all I could see was darkness.
I then realised that I was somehow further down the road than I remember, and I couldn't recall walking that far down the road ~ down to where a local Pub is situated, so was a bit confused
(to say the least) and was somewhat puzzled, questioning myself as to what had just happened, asking myself inwardly "was what just happened, and was that real?"
Anyway, the next day, I happened to be walking the same part of the road during the daytime, trying to go over in my mind what I had seen, and happened the previous night. Then, I happened to bump into the landlord of the Pub outside sweeping up the front entrance, so I approached him and asked him if he'd heard anything from his visitors to the Pub if anyone had reported seeing anything unusual. He said yes, as a matter of fact, there were several people that had mentioned to him about seeing some small coloured lights in the same area down in the valley.
So as to what that was, is anyone's guess.
 
Thanks to everyone for your replies. I've kept an interest in ball lightning since this incident. Every now and again, incidents do get mentioned in the news. My understanding is many scientists agree it is a rare weather phenomenon, but there's no real proof of how it works? I remember years ago reading a news story regarding a university in Sweden, and ball lightning had entered via a window (which is how I suspect my ball lightning entered our house), and it actually damaged their glass window. There was a photo of the incident & it was very credible. That news story is likely still online somewhere.... I should have mentioned in the retelling of my story, our house was located in a semi rural area. There was a paddock behind our house, and lots of surrounding farms. I believe there is a chance the ball lightning was rolling around outside and unseen, before it entered our living room. What a shame we didn't have mobile phones back then, to get a photo or video! ....By the way, this is the only strange incident that has ever happened to me. But something unusual and much spookier did happen to a friend of mine, I'll share that story in a moment.
 
My last encounter, (might have already posted this encounter earlier - some years back now) with something very like this, though outside, down in a local valley where a small stream runs through the lowest part of it.
I was walking towards the bendy bit of the local valley road, it was dark, (at night wintertime) I happened to look down through the dark shadowy tree trunks into the valley bottom below, and I couldn't help but notice that there was a pretty large ball of light just sitting right on top of the streams position. It didn't move, the orange coloured light was fuzzy around it's perimeter with a dark centre part.
I didn't stop to observe it however, (I don't know why I didn't) though, when I looked back to see if it was still there, all I could see was darkness.
I then realised that I was somehow further down the road than I remember, and I couldn't recall walking that far down the road ~ down to where a local Pub is situated, so was a bit confused
(to say the least) and was somewhat puzzled, questioning myself as to what had just happened, asking myself inwardly "was what just happened, and was that real?"
Anyway, the next day, I happened to be walking the same part of the road during the daytime, trying to go over in my mind what I had seen, and happened the previous night. Then, I happened to bump into the landlord of the Pub outside sweeping up the front entrance, so I approached him and asked him if he'd heard anything from his visitors to the Pub if anyone had reported seeing anything unusual. He said yes, as a matter of fact, there were several people that had mentioned to him about seeing some small coloured lights in the same area down in the valley.
So as to what that was, is anyone's guess.
Hi Sid, interesting story! The feelings you describe are very similar to how I felt! Same as your experience, I remember thinking "Is this real?? What the hell??". Likewise, time was a little bit weird that evening for me. In hindsight, I think it was my brain trying to understand what was happening. It is hard to put into words, but I'll try: I first noticed it at 6pm, with the ball lightning peeking from behind the TV set. That time from 6pm onwards felt very strange - I noticed the light, out of the corner of my eye, and knew it was odd (we never used the 70s lamp, it probably wasn't even plugged in, but initially I kept assuming it was the lamp). Despite knowing something was very wrong, I just kept watching TV. It was like a having a thought knawing away at you on the edge of your awareness. So I just ignored the light, which seems a strange thing to do. I even got up and left the room!, coming back later, and the light was still there. Next, I remember noticing the light more and more, and feeling really odd. Like I said, in hindsight I think my brain was trying to process something very unusual and scary. I think it is really interesting, psychologically, that I reacted this way for the first couple of hours.... It was only later, by maybe 8pm, when the ball had grown in size and had risen up properly from behind the TV, that I suddenly realised what it was & freaked out. And yes, I really did freak out! I jumped up out of my chair and yelled "Don't touch it!!!!" etc... It is a relief for me that it was witnessed by another family member, and that she reacted to it as well. Otherwise, I'd think it was a really really vivid dream, or something. I did try and follow it up afterwards. I tried discussing it with my family members, and I even visited the science department at my university to ask if they had any ideas (they didn't). Overall, the experience made me appreciate that we don't know everything about the natural world (which is kind of a scary thought for a person like me, who doesn't believe in the paranormal etc).
 
Thanks to everyone for your replies. I've kept an interest in ball lightning since this incident. Every now and again, incidents do get mentioned in the news. My understanding is many scientists agree it is a rare weather phenomenon, but there's no real proof of how it works? I remember years ago reading a news story regarding a university in Sweden, and ball lightning had entered via a window (which is how I suspect my ball lightning entered our house), and it actually damaged their glass window. There was a photo of the incident & it was very credible. That news story is likely still online somewhere.... I should have mentioned in the retelling of my story, our house was located in a semi rural area. There was a paddock behind our house, and lots of surrounding farms. I believe there is a chance the ball lightning was rolling around outside and unseen, before it entered our living room. What a shame we didn't have mobile phones back then, to get a photo or video! ....By the way, this is the only strange incident that has ever happened to me. But something unusual and much spookier did happen to a friend of mine, I'll share that story in a moment.
What’s extra unusual about your experience is the ball of light lasting for at least 2 hours. Most ball lightning reports I’ve read don’t seem to last anywhere near this.
 
Yes, good point hunck! It was at least two hours (and I was left with the feeling that it could well have been there longer. I just noticed it around 6pm). ....Two hours of just it sitting behind the TV, slowly getting bigger and rising, almost like a balloon. And me slowly realising something wasn't right while watching TV... It was the strangest thing. 'Floating like a bubble' is the best way to describe how it looked. It was very, very bright - just like a light bulb. Not transparent. My other detail that differs from some online stories is the ball lightning I witnessed was silent when it popped. (I have read some accounts when it allegedly made a deafening bang for some people). The thing I saw popped just like you would expect a detergent bubble to pop, looking identical to that, and completely silent.
 
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We have a thread dedicated to Ball Lightning.
You might like to put a copy of your experiences in there.
Here is a link to the last entry in the thread, which happened to be by our sadly passed long-time member and mod, Enola Gaia.
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/ball-lightning.1716/post-2206307

You might like to break up your writing into paragraphs etc, just to make it easier to read :)
Oh and welcome to the forum - interesting stuff guitarh.

Experience moved to a dedicated 'It Happened To Me' Thread.

Text edited to include paragraphs.
 
Welcome @guitarh. Great story.

So I just wanted to clarify a few things because I'm not sure that I am understanding everything and a few thoughts popped up.

You are talking about ball lightning and not a ball of light?

You said that one side of the tv had a window and the orange light (which you first thought was on) was behind the tv. I don't know where you live (and you're not expected to say), but you explain that you saw this light in the winter around 6ish. Is there setting sun at this time, or has it set? Is it possible that light from somewhere outside and then through the window was reflecting off of something?

And if you are referring to ball lightning, how did you come to this conclusion? Is it because the light you saw looked like the pics of ball lightning that you researched, or were there other similarities ?

I don't know a lot about ball lightning, but do know that even the experts have difficulty explaining how lightning works (the different phenomena seen with lightning). I had the same thought as @hunck about the length of time that it stayed in the same place.

Interesting that ball lightning has been heard to pop. I didn't know it would pop. My mom, years ago, had ball lightning enter into the milkhouse (dairy farm) while she was cleaning up and leave.
 
The Family lore on my Mums side is that My Grandma had an experience with ball lightening as a younger woman.

It seems that it was a globe of light that entered the house through the back door (A two up and down), wandered through the kitchen and the front room and exited through the front door. It was a Midlands summer day early in the 20th century so both doors were open. There was no mention of a storm, just that the day was 'pothery' (close, humid.)

Ever since Grandma Alice would shroud the mirror with a table cloth, and the cutlery with tea towels - Our Alice thought that bare metal in a storm could attract ball lightening.
 
As a meteorologist, naturally I have an interest in weather phenomena, especially those, like ball lightning, that are not well understood.

Guitarh, as hunck has observed, accounts of completely stationary ball lightning are rare, as are accounts of such long duration. You were right to be cautious; although ball lightning has been reported having no noticeable effects on nearby objects or people, it also has been reported to do some pretty serious damage.

A request to anyone reporting ball lightning: please take care to note the prevailing weather conditions. What kinds of clouds were present (or at least how cloudy was it if you don't know cloud types)? How windy was it? Was it hot or cold? Was it humid or dry? Was the weather unusual in some other way for your area?
 
Welcome @guitarh. Great story.

So I just wanted to clarify a few things because I'm not sure that I am understanding everything and a few thoughts popped up.

You are talking about ball lightning and not a ball of light?

You said that one side of the tv had a window and the orange light (which you first thought was on) was behind the tv. I don't know where you live (and you're not expected to say), but you explain that you saw this light in the winter around 6ish. Is there setting sun at this time, or has it set? Is it possible that light from somewhere outside and then through the window was reflecting off of something?

And if you are referring to ball lightning, how did you come to this conclusion? Is it because the light you saw looked like the pics of ball lightning that you researched, or were there other similarities ?

I don't know a lot about ball lightning, but do know that even the experts have difficulty explaining how lightning works (the different phenomena seen with lightning). I had the same thought as @hunck about the length of time that it stayed in the same place.

Interesting that ball lightning has been heard to pop. I didn't know it would pop. My mom, years ago, had ball lightning enter into the milkhouse (dairy farm) while she was cleaning up and leave.
Hi brownmane, thank you for your great questions! I'll do my best to answer them:

"You are talking about ball lightning and not a ball of light?"

Great question! It was indeed a ball of light. I am assuming it was ball lightning. It looked like electrical energy. Similar to a very bright light bulb. Bright yellow colour with a hint of orange. Perfectly round. Final size was smaller than a basketball, bigger than a grapefruit. I think of it as ball lightning.

"And if you are referring to ball lightning, how did you come to this conclusion? Is it because the light you saw looked like the pics of ball lightning that you researched, or were there other similarities?"

Great question. I can't remember what initially made me think 'ball lightning'. Since reading your question, I've been trying to remember at what point I concluded it was ball lightning. I think during the initial experience, I had not made that link. Nor in the days afterwards. My first immediate idea was some kind of crazy electrical discharge that had come out of the back of the TV set. This incident happened in the 1995, and our TV set was a 1980s tube model with a grill on the back, common at the time. I remember inspecting the back of the TV wondering if it came from there... But I also remember inspecting the floorboard and windows for clues. Because that's all that was in that part of the room... A year or so later, I remember asking the Science Department at my university if they had any ideas: this tells me by 1996 I was still very confused about what I had seen. Here in Australia we have a celebrity scientist known as "Dr.Karl", and I remember in the late 1990s his radio show asked for people to submit science questions, so I wrote an email to him asking his opinion (but I only got an autoreply in return, haha). I didn't have email access until I started my Honours Degree in 1999, so this tells me by 1999 I still hadn't made the conection to 'ball lightning'. By early 2000s internet search engines became popular, and one of the first things I did when I had access to this was search for information on 'ball lightning'. I think I probably had searched for key words "ball of light floating" etc. I eventually concluded it was ball lightning because it matched SOME photos and SOME descriptions online. Tellingly, the ball of light I witnessed appeared immediately next to a window.

"You said that one side of the tv had a window and the orange light (which you first thought was on) was behind the tv. I don't know where you live (and you're not expected to say), but you explain that you saw this light in the winter around 6ish. Is there setting sun at this time, or has it set?

I live in Australia in the state of Victoria. This incident happened July/August/Sept, I know this because we had a relative visiting from overseas during that time. And I remember it happened around the middle of her stay, so this would make it August. During July/August, the sun sets here at around 5pm. I remember first noticing the ball of light between 6pm-7pm, and it was dark outside by then. I'm certain it was that time of the evening, because I was home from university classes, dinner was being cooked, and it was that time of the evening when the news is on TV.

"Is it possible that light from somewhere outside and then through the window was reflecting off of something?""

It definitely wasn't a reflection, it was a physical object inside the room. And there was no way something could have reflected from outside: The windows next to the TV faced out to a big backyard. Our curtains were closed, because it was evening. Behind the backyard was a big empty paddock. Behind the paddock was a small hill, and then lots of farms. It was a semi-rural area. Being familiar with the setup, there's just no way. I do appreciate your question though! But we can safely discount a reflection.

I have attached some found photos from the internet that help illustrate my story a bit better. The first photo is a living room layout that was similar to ours. It matches how our TV was on a table in the corner of the room, with one wall on the left, and windows on the right. But remember our house was old, and wasn't brightly lit. And importantly, our wall on the left was basically one big built-in bookcase, filled with books and some odds and ends....

On our bookcase next to the TV was an old 70s orange plastic lamp. I have attached a photo of a similar lamp, so you can get an idea. We didn't use the lamp by the 90s, but we kept it on the bookcase because it looked cool. So when I noticed the light out of the corner of my eye, I had thought "Oh someone has turned the lamp on" which struck me as odd, because we didn't use the lamp. For me personally, this is the weirdest part of the whole incident: my eyes had noticed something highly unusual, but my brain was trying to find a rational explanation, and I was not focusing on the object with my full attention, I just noticed it in my periphery whilst focusing on other things. As I explained in my original post, I even got up and left the room & had some food! etc, before returning and it was still there. In the immediate aftermath of the event, that seemed more unsettling than the light itself! Eg: how long had it actually been there for? Had it been there for many hours?....

I've also attached an example of a similar TV set. Just in case any younger members of this board don't know what I am referring to. The old TVs in the 80s had a big box on the back, with grill holes (for ventilation?). It seems silly now, but my initial thought was the electrical discharge came from there.

The Japan photo: I really think the photo of ball lightning in Japan (attached) matches what I saw. Similar size. Notice how the ball is moving from right to left, at the same height. Mine did the exact same thing, before popping.

EDIT: I should point out: there was no thunderstorm or lightning outside. It was just dark and cold. But no thunder, rain, or lightning.
 

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As a meteorologist, naturally I have an interest in weather phenomena, especially those, like ball lightning, that are not well understood.

Guitarh, as hunck has observed, accounts of completely stationary ball lightning are rare, as are accounts of such long duration. You were right to be cautious; although ball lightning has been reported having no noticeable effects on nearby objects or people, it also has been reported to do some pretty serious damage.

A request to anyone reporting ball lightning: please take care to note the prevailing weather conditions. What kinds of clouds were present (or at least how cloudy was it if you don't know cloud types)? How windy was it? Was it hot or cold? Was it humid or dry? Was the weather unusual in some other way for your area?
Hi Aether Blue,
Yes I hate to think what would have happened if we touched it. We'd have been injured or worse, for sure. It was a terrifying moment when it started moving in a straight line across the room (however briefly). Because all my instincts told me it was electrical and dangerous.

All I remember about the weather that night is it was dark and cold. Definitely no thunderstorm, lightning, or rain outside that evening. Just a cold winters evening. I can even say, there was not even a storm later that night. Because we would have made that connection between the incident and the weather. But there was nothing. It definitely did not occur before, during, or after a storm. Interesting hey!

EDIT: Just re-reading your comment, you write "although ball lightning has been reported having no noticeable effects on nearby objects or people". This was true in my incident. The ball of light did not damage or burn anything at all, not even in the space behind the TV it emerged from & and had been stationary for a couple of hours. I've never really thought about that before! It was self-contained. There was definitely no damage or even a mark.
 
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