Guest essay by Mike Alger, Chief Meteorologist,KTVN-TV,Reno, NV
Here’s something you don’t see every day. Flying a mission for the Air Force, Capt. Ryan McGuire started rolling some video (I believe with an iPhone through night vision goggles) of a very active thunderstorm cell somewhere over the Indian Ocean. Hoping to just catch some of the regular lightning (which is seen in abundance), he caught a very rare instance of a “Gigantic Jet.” A Gigantic Jet is a type of upper atmospheric lightning (also called a TLE…transient luminous event) which discharges from the tops of very strong thunderstorms from the stratosphere all the way into the ionosphere. Gigantic Jets can be over 40 miles in length.
Watch the top
right left of the video to see the jet:
Capt. McGuire shared the video with fellow Capt. Clark Beesemyer. Curious as to what the upward shooting streak was, Capt. Beesemyer sent the video to my co-anchor Arianna Bennett, and asked her to show it to her station’s meteorologist (yours truly.) I was thrilled to get such a rare glimpse of an incredibly cool phenomenon.