Mother Nature’s fireworks are better than our own

I’ve been treated to dazzling displays of brilliant lights and bone-rattling booms the last several nights. I’m not talking about fireworks – though plenty of our neighbors are still setting those off. I’m talking about lightning.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think fireworks are really cool.

Hey, I’m a guy. Guys are just hard-wired to get excited about blowing stuff up. And living in Wyoming, where there aren’t many laws regulating fireworks, there are plenty of people setting fireworks off all around my house just about any time of the year, but more so in the weeks before and after the Fourth of July.

But one of the other great things about living on the high plains is the natural fireworks in the summer. Nearly every night for the past several weeks, there’s been a lot of electrical activity up in the clouds. The lightning seldom makes its way all the way down to the ground – usually it just lights up the clouds from the inside, resulting in a mesmerizing display of colors ranging from blue to bright pink.

For several nights beginning on the Fourth of July, though, that lightning show kicked up several notches. There was plenty of cloud lightning, but there was more than a little cloud-to-ground lightning, too. Some of it was close enough to the house to result in a flash followed almost immediately by a wall-shaking boom.

We don’t get a lot of that kind of lightning where we live, so I spent a good amount of time each night sitting either in front of the living room windows or out on the back deck watching it. I don’t particularly want to catch 20,000 volts with my own body, though, so the closer that lightning was to the house, the more likely I was watching it through a pane of glass.

We’ve also had several neighbors sending up what are undoubtedly some pretty high-end fireworks, but even the best of those displays haven’t come close to the beauty and awesomeness of the natural fireworks shows put on up in the clouds. And no matter how much you spend on fireworks, you’ll never find one that’ll produce the amount of noise a good lightning bolt can generate.

Keep an eye to the skies at night this summer. Save your fireworks money and watch nature’s light show, instead.

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