Thunder and lightning: photographer captures special ‘streamer’


It is a beautiful and impressive photo anyway, that De Reijke made of the thunderstorm at the windmills in Heusden. He managed to capture lightning from about 200 meters away.

Small lightning streak

On the right of the photo is a windmill behind a house. A small streak of lightning can be seen at the top of the mill. “A special phenomenon, we call this a streamer”, says Brian Verhoeven of Buienradar.

Bright impact and hard bang

Lightning goes both from the cloud to the ground and from the ground to the cloud, says Verhoeven. “Most of the lightning discharge comes down from the cloud. All those branches that you often see clearly show how lightning is looking for a connection to the ground.”

Lightning cannot make that connection itself, says Verhoeven: it requires streamers. “These are very small lightnings that rise a few meters from the ground or an object. As soon as one of those branches of the lightning discharge finds such a streamer, the channel is complete and negatively charged particles can quickly move to the earth’s surface. to (partially) cancel the positive charge there. The result: a strong lightning strike and often a very loud bang. ”

Difficult to capture

Streamers can be seen with every lightning discharge. But because they are only close to the actual impact and it happens very quickly, they are often difficult to see. “It rarely happens that you can see it in such a photo as above.”


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