Pilots capture staggering phenomenon as Hurricane Idalia approached Florida

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By stefan armitage

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Hurricane Idalia has made landfall in Florida, with the "extremely dangerous" Category 3 storm causing in a bizarre natural phenomenon in the skies.

Yes, it's not just those on the ground who are concerned with the imposing storm, as pilots from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, witnessed and recorded a rare spectacle of nature known as St. Elmo's Fire.

This eerie yet fascinating weather anomaly has left social media users in awe, bringing a momentary distraction from the severe storm warnings issued for the area.

Taking to their social media account on X (formerly known as Twitter), MacDill Air Force Base reported: "During the evacuation, the 50th ARS recorded St. Elmo’s fire, a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created in an atmospheric electric field."

Per BBC News, the footage was filmed on August 28 and showcases an electrifying view from the cockpit where radid flashes of lightning - identified as St. Elmo's Fire - streak across the horizon.

For those not in the know, St. Elmo's Fire is a phenomenon where the atmosphere becomes electrically charged, allowing for a discharge of luminous plasma between an object and the surrounding air. Per Skybrary.aero, the natural spectacle is generally bluish or violet, but St. Elmo's Fire can sometimes even display a greenish hue.

While St. Elmo's Fire itself isn't directly hazardous, it does indicate active thunderstorm conditions and could be a prelude to an impending lightning strike. Some pilots have also reported that this phenomenon can be heard "singing" on the aircraft's radio, producing a frying or hissing sound.

"This is wild! I never heard of this," one X user wrote in response to the footage. While a second added: "Holy Moly! Hope Idalia is kind."

As Florida braces for Hurricane Idalia, the storm hit the Big Bend area near Keaton Beach with ferocious winds peaking at 125 mph.

Originally a Category 4 hurricane, Idalia has been downgraded but remains "extremely dangerous," causing flooded streets, widespread power outages, and halting flights with closed airports.

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Hurricane Idalia makes landfall in Florida. Credit: Joe Raedle / Staff

Per NBC News, the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee warns that "locations may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months" due to the extreme wind damage and that the storm surge could impede access to certain areas.

Experts predict that storm surge damage could span about 200 miles along Florida’s west coast, extending past the Tampa Bay area. Projections indicate that the state's Big Bend area may witness a staggering 12-16 feet of storm surge.

Our thoughts are with everybody impacted by this storm, and we encourage those who can to follow the US National Weather Service for updates and information on staying safe.

Featured image credit: Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty

Pilots capture staggering phenomenon as Hurricane Idalia approached Florida

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

Hurricane Idalia has made landfall in Florida, with the "extremely dangerous" Category 3 storm causing in a bizarre natural phenomenon in the skies.

Yes, it's not just those on the ground who are concerned with the imposing storm, as pilots from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, witnessed and recorded a rare spectacle of nature known as St. Elmo's Fire.

This eerie yet fascinating weather anomaly has left social media users in awe, bringing a momentary distraction from the severe storm warnings issued for the area.

Taking to their social media account on X (formerly known as Twitter), MacDill Air Force Base reported: "During the evacuation, the 50th ARS recorded St. Elmo’s fire, a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created in an atmospheric electric field."

Per BBC News, the footage was filmed on August 28 and showcases an electrifying view from the cockpit where radid flashes of lightning - identified as St. Elmo's Fire - streak across the horizon.

For those not in the know, St. Elmo's Fire is a phenomenon where the atmosphere becomes electrically charged, allowing for a discharge of luminous plasma between an object and the surrounding air. Per Skybrary.aero, the natural spectacle is generally bluish or violet, but St. Elmo's Fire can sometimes even display a greenish hue.

While St. Elmo's Fire itself isn't directly hazardous, it does indicate active thunderstorm conditions and could be a prelude to an impending lightning strike. Some pilots have also reported that this phenomenon can be heard "singing" on the aircraft's radio, producing a frying or hissing sound.

"This is wild! I never heard of this," one X user wrote in response to the footage. While a second added: "Holy Moly! Hope Idalia is kind."

As Florida braces for Hurricane Idalia, the storm hit the Big Bend area near Keaton Beach with ferocious winds peaking at 125 mph.

Originally a Category 4 hurricane, Idalia has been downgraded but remains "extremely dangerous," causing flooded streets, widespread power outages, and halting flights with closed airports.

wp-image-1263226398 size-full
Hurricane Idalia makes landfall in Florida. Credit: Joe Raedle / Staff

Per NBC News, the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee warns that "locations may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months" due to the extreme wind damage and that the storm surge could impede access to certain areas.

Experts predict that storm surge damage could span about 200 miles along Florida’s west coast, extending past the Tampa Bay area. Projections indicate that the state's Big Bend area may witness a staggering 12-16 feet of storm surge.

Our thoughts are with everybody impacted by this storm, and we encourage those who can to follow the US National Weather Service for updates and information on staying safe.

Featured image credit: Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty