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Strange Phenomenon Seen over US Is Caught on Video: Shaft of Light Whips Over the Clouds

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Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

A video making its rounds on social media reportedly captured an extremely rare phenomenon that shows a beam of light waving around above the clouds.

The anomaly, known as a “crown flash,” occurs when changing electrical fields within a thunderstorm realign the ice crystals above the cloud, according to the meteorological website Meteored. The crystals then reflect sunlight in what appear to be spotlight beams.

The crown flash was first described in 1885 by the Monthly Weather Review, according to Guinness World Records.

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Despite cameras now being found on almost every phone, there are actually very few recordings of the sight.

Meteorologist James Spann posted a video of the phenomenon April 28, noting that it was recently “spotted over Miami Beach” in Florida.

The nearly minute-long clip posted on Twitter appears to show a beam of light shining above the clouds, almost as if someone was waving around a flashlight.

Have you ever witnessed a crown flash?

The video quickly made the rounds across social media, with other experts confirming it was a crown flash. Still, the phenomenon stumped many.

“You’ve NOT seen a weather phenomenon like THIS! What a spectacular optical effect. I have never heard of it myself. Spooky…love it,” BBC meteorologist Tomasz Schafernaker wrote in retweeting Spann’s video.

“Saw one myself about 9 years ago on some thunderstorms developing on the sea breeze. It was very bright and lasted for several minutes,” wrote Dan Satterfield, a Maryland meteorologist.

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“I had never even heard of a crown flash, much less seen one,” another meteorologist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area wrote of the phenomenon. “Fascinating.”

However, some online questioned the video’s authenticity and others suggested that it was actually footage taken from a previous occurrence.

According to Newsweek, one of the latest recordings of a crown flash was in May of last year, when a video captured it in the clouds above Texas.

In August 2020, another crown flash was captured by a local Florida resident, who said he had watched the beam move about for over 10 minutes, Newsweek reported.

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