going on. We had been diverted from our regular patrol for SAR (search and rescue,
pronounced "sar"), so I knew I was going to be up later than I had originally
planned. I've never gotten a call from the bridge about an awesome light show,
so I quickly finished my email or whatever administrivia on which I was working
and made my way to the bridge.
There were storms off the starboard bow and off the starboard quarter. Great big
huge cumulonimbus anvil heads towering into the sky, that were being lit up from
the inside with massive bolts of lightning. Some of the lightning was streaking
crossways through the sky, but many bolts were striking crookedly down to the
earth's surface. And these were solid bolts -- not the wimpy kind that flash for
the briefest of split seconds. These bolts were boldly staying lit for seconds at
The flashes that were moving horizontally backlit the clouds with eerie yellows,
tans and greys, at times bright enough to turn night darkness into daytime
brilliance. It would be pitch black anywheres from two to ten seconds before
the next charge lit up, blinding everyone who was looking in its vicinity and
wrecking all of our night vision.
There's something mysterious, seductive and just the tiniest bit scary about
that contrast of brilliant flashes of visible energy against the impenetrable
dark depths of the ocean's surface...