By Patrick Gross, 2004.
Please note: The reader will find certain spelling, punctuation and other small errors in this extremely important article, which have come about through translation problems.
The notion put forth by the Aviation Magazine editor Philip Klass that encounters between planes and UFOs are explained by ball lightning/plasma phenomena are absurd.
These proposals are made in spite of the quantitative factors relating to the phenomena of ball lightning and in spite of the details of the witnesses reports in such encounters.
The proposition that
some, if not all, UFO sighting reports by airborne witnesses can be
explained by the atmospheric, physical plasma phenomenon, were often
repeated; for example,
they were proposed many times by the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and by the senior editor of an aviation magazine,
Philip J. Klass, who sees it as the explanation for many UFOs through several magazine articles, (see Ref 1. for an example), then as a general explanation through his books (see Ref 2. for an example),
and often during his media 'interventions.
It received a broad echo in the public, which, without necessarily
knowing the details, often seems to have built a fuzzy but persistent
belief that UFOs could be explained by these phenomena;
and because these phenomena are badly known, it would be certain or at least possible, that this explanation is valid and withdraws any mystery to UFOs, which would be overall a mere natural phenomenon,
except a certain number of cases of frauds and some other commonplace causes.
Ball lightning is a
phenomenon, which was long ignored by the researchers, on the one hand
because its alleged existence rested on visual testimonies, on the
other hand because few researchers saw a particular
benefit in studying an elusive and rare phenomenon without particular attraction. The ordinary lightning itself, whose existence is obviously not disputed, had not particularly been the object of research on the electric,
physical and chemical mechanisms of its formation. The lightning exists; it is some sort of an electric arc, and this was enough to extinguish the curiosity it may cause.
It is however, false to believe that research still has nothing more to say on plasma. The phenomenon is now well understood, and in particular, the conditions necessary for its appearance are known.
There is a set of several basic requirements. The first is regular lightning: if there is no thunder storm, if the meteorological conditions that allow regular lightning are not met, then, there is no ball lightning.
lightning must hit a structure such as a building, soil, or a tree. The
struck object must have a metallic or an oxide component, such as
silicon oxide. Lightning reduces it to silicon metal, a variety of
silicon produced in the industry. Silicon vapour condenses to form silicon nanospheres, which gather together in long strings.
requirement is the presence of "fulgerides," long holes in the soil,
filled with hot vapour. These fulgerides are created when regular
lightning hits the ground: geologists have dug the soil after it had
been hit by
lightning and found them to be made of frozen molten glass oxides, often in the form of tubes.
Silicon vapour is
then ejected back out of the soil, forming a ring vortex, which forms a
sphere. Once in this shape, the ball can move some distance.
The oxide layer on the surface of each of the particles slows the process down, until eventually each particle runs out of metal. At this point the ball either fades away or explodes.
Of course, as not
everyone is a specialist in plasma, and as the comprehension of this
mechanism is really very recent, (2002 for the best checks), discarded
theories and pseudo-scientist explanations abound and persist.
They range from matter/antimatter annihilation, puffs of what the astrophysicists call "dark matter" of the universe, spontaneous phenomena of nuclear fusion and so on, all being incomplete, undemonstrated explanations,
contradicted by the facts.
Moreover, a certain
amount of confusion exists because many researches are taking place to
create in vitro plasma. There is certainly many methods to create a
phenomenon in vitro, methods which do not owe
anything to soil composition, do not require that a storm bursts above the laboratory; but to believe that, since it is possible to create some plasma phenomena with laboratory equipment,
and so, this must be the method which is used by nature, is obviously erroneous.
In the UFO
casebooks, it is easy to find a subset of fully detailed observations
reports for which the plasma explanation can in no way be validated.
Philip Klass seems to take for granted that UFOs manifest only visually in the form of more or less vaguely spherical amorphous blobs, misty or fuzzy, glowing or luminous: However UFOs, sometimes,
are also reported as visually clear-cut objects, solid, structured, having a geometry which is incompatible with the ball lightning phenomena, such as forms that are rectangular, cylindrical, parallel, tubular,
disc with various types of protrusions such as domes and rings and so on.
The texture of the observed phenomena is sometimes described as definitely solid, metallic looking, non luminous, non glowing, and the colours dark or divided into colours according to geometrical limits',
(dark tops and light bottoms, rings of a different colour than the body for example, are not accommodated with a plasma explanation.) Other observation reports include clear descriptions of
characteristics that require a severely twisted mind to accommodate the plasma theory: lights laid out geometrically, similar to headlights, regularly spaced cuttings showing luminosities or different colours
than the main body of the observed phenomenon, evoking windows, port-holes, conduits, and even UFO occupants.
At no time Philip Klass proposes an explanation of the manner plasma could produce such clear visual impressions.
One of the very rare photographs of ball lightning. Enlargement of the UFO in one of the 4 Lac Chauvet photographs.
However I want to
discuss the context in which Philip Klass really proposes ball
lightning as the explanation, case where the observation of UFOs is
reported by pilots in flight, ignoring the objection presented above,
which remains however a fundamental and not a circumvented objection.
characteristic at the same time in the observation reports of ball
lightning and plasmoids, and mathematical models suggested to explain
them, which reached a broad consensus among the specialists,
is that ball lightning is closely related to common lightning in common thunderstorms.
Klass on the
contrary argues that ball lightning is also produced in clear weather,
free from any stormy activity, and his argument to claim this lies
precisely in observation reports of luminous masses that witnesses saw
The argument is confused, consisting in denying that the phenomena of the lightning in ball and plasma require stormy activity.. At most could one concede that there would be another cause, still unknown,
for the phenomena of plasmoids, apart from stormy conditions, which explain them according to established consensuses.
Indeed, Klass proposes any argument on an unspecified cause for the phenomenon in clear weather; and actually, in the majority of the cases quoted with the support by Klass, it is arbitrary to define the observation
as being that of a plasma; this returns in fact to a simple diversion of interpretation: since luminous masses are seen apart from stormy conditions and could not be explained differently than by plasma,
let us conclude that plasma must also exist apart from the stormy conditions.
By consulting the examples given by Klass, one can realize indeed that what he regards as examples of plasma seen in clear time without storms, is actually taken among the casuistry of the UFOS,
and which it is by no means obvious that these cases must be described as plasmoides.
consultation of sources relating to testimony of observations of the
lightning in ball, such that given in Appendix 1, show indeed that it
quasi totality of the phenomena of the lightning in ball take place
Being unaware of the details of the observations of UFOS which are not at all compatible with the lightning in ball, Philip Klass is also unaware of, (in a manner which surprises us only little),
the essential cause of the lightning in ball, and thus carries out, without apparent state of heart, an illicit bringing together between two definitely distinct phenomena.
I cannot prevent
myself from noticing a strange sentence noted on the Internet site of
the CSICOP, (an association of various people convinced of the
inexistence of the phenomenon UFO),
like anything of other than that of a collection of frauds and phenomena commonplace: " These glowing balls of light appear very rarely in association with thunderstorms "
(these incandescent balls of light seldom appear in association with storms).
There we have an ambiguity of which, if it is not voluntary, I am convinced that it is particularly specific to throw the reader in a terrible confusion:
does the CSICOP us say that the lightning in ball is rare, or he says us that the lightning in ball is seldom associated with the storms?
The CSICOP also says
to us in a short presentation of the phenomenon by a geologist, " Since
even the ordinary lightning is mysterious, the activity of the ball
lightning in nature is even more. "
There still, far from enlightening us on what is known phenomenoa, the CSICOP maintains a doubt favourable at its sites on UFOS. Indeed, even if one could agree on an explanation for the major physical
causes of the phenomena, it is misleading to overlook our latest understanding about this phenomenon. Worst, the principal and essential circumstance of appearance of the phenomenon, namely the storms,
has been known a long time since to be accurate. It is while overlooking this knowledge that the CSICOP gives up the true research on the origin of the phenomenon UFO in favour of the theories of one of its members.
However, a more
fundamental problem exists... and is well-known amongst specialists in
ball lightning and plasmoid research: the implied
quantitative aspects cannot create these phenomena in the free air,
beyond active tectonic zones; the comparable phenomena of " tectonic lights " can be caused by phenomenon piezoelectric related on the nature of the grounds and the tectonic tensions.
In the open air, in clear weather, in the places where the planes fly, there is not simply enough electricity in the air to allow the appearance of the lightning in balls and plasmoids,
except precisely under the stormy conditions.
from stormy conditions, if we try to evaluate the surface of the sector
of air necessary to gather enough electrical current, on a 100 meters
height, in order to lead to a heating
in Joules corresponding to 100 Watts, this surface rises with 10.000 square kilometres, knowing that plasmoids correspond well rather to a minimum of 1000 Watts.
In fact there obviously conditions make rather absurd the proposal of Philip Klass.
serious problem for the theory of Philip Klass concern kinetic aspects:
if the real phenomenon of the plasmoides still comprises many unknown
all the observational data show quasi-null characteristics of displacement compared to the characteristics found in the reports/ratios of observation of UFOS. Certain plasma move,
but to in no case were not observed plasma supersonic for example. Besides Philip Klass does not propose any explanation concerning the fast displacement of the UFOS and does not explain how UFOS,
which would be plasmoides, could show kinetic characteristics ever observed for the plasmoides.
It proposes however a case of figure in which the plane itself would be the cause of the creation of the plasmoid, under particular conditions, which do not apply to any case where plane and UFOS are distant.
We discuss that now.
The idea of Klass is
the following one: the planes while moving, become
affected electrically by friction with their structure
from the steam, dust, the rain or the snow of the air, and
this attracts the plasmoides which then seem to
approach the planes because of attraction between opposite electric charges.
atmospheric physicist James E McDONALD, noted that Klass did not carry
out any quantitative checking of such an assumption,
and rather, he showed that such an attraction, even by rounding the
factors in manner systematically and largely favourable to the assumption of Klass, was a completely ridiculous theory:
in the best of the cases, our plasmoides would move with the slowness of a pedestrian in the direction of the plane.
also remains that it is not at all established as to
why plane and plasmoides should have opposed electric charges;
and Klass does not notice at all that if the implied loads were of the
plane and plasmoid would move away.
There, Philip Klass would undoubtedly have seen an explanatory theory concerning the attempts at interceptions of UFOS by interceptors in which the interceptor does not manage to catch up with the target.
remains also an objection amusing to formulate against this assumption:
if the plasmoides were attracted towards the planes, how would it be
explained that this attraction does not end in a systematic collision?
In fact, Klass approached this objection, and proposes an explanation completely manufactured, there still without any quantitative study, according to which the plasmoid will stop at some distance from the plane
because of the draughts that it generates.
Also excluded from the discussion is the problem of UFOS approaching and moving away as well as those capable of flight in formation, or rupture of formation, or the adoption of various formations.
exceeds the framework of this discussion, we wish to recall that Klass
also proposes that the vehicles on the ground and even the pedestrians
would attract the plasmoids because of their opposed electric
there still, it acts of an aspect of its explanatory assumption of UFOS as plasmoids.
little known, the response of Philip Klass to the physicist James
McDONALD, in whom it thinks of refuting quantitative calculations of
McDONALD: having confused Volts and Watts,
it believed to be able to restore its assumption, but has in fact established its incapacity to support any serious discussion on the question of the aspects quantitative and its fundamental ignorance of physics.
With its discharge, it is advisable to specify that Philip Klass is by no means a scientist, and amongst other things at all qualified in the field of the plasma physics.
It is quantitatively
absurd to propose such a thing as plasmoides reducing or
similar to the planes in reasons of opposite or equal electric charges,
and I doubt that the public or an even many researchers familiarized
or not with the problems of the UFOS, really took note of this type of proposal; it seems to me on the contrary, that such proposals of Klass are perceived as assumptions and escape the general attention.
average lifespan of a plasma is about fifteen seconds, although some
rare badly checked testimonies comprise durations estimated about 40
seconds, some, even rarer, being described
like one duration of several minutes. (Are excluded here from the electric atmospheric phenomena such fires of Saint Elmo and Aurora Borealis, which adapt even less to the observations of UFOS
either by their geographical localization, or by their visual aspect, by the reasons given here for the plasmoides). Sometimes plasma disappears simply, sometimes it explodes.
In addition to the proposal for a spontaneous creation of plasmoides in released and none stormy skies, Klass proposes that the planes themselves can create plasma, at the tip of their wings.
It to us proposes that the planes create a pollution, which would be converted into plasma by the swirls generated by wing tip of the planes.
The proposal is absurd on so much of points: If the planes had such a capacity of pollution that it would approach the quantities implied, we would indeed have a major problem of aviation.
We have also
to include/understand the strange proposal of the creation of
plasmoides occurring, (according to Klass), at the end of the wings,
certainly the place or this pollution
with the least chance to cause such an effect.
The production of in vitro plasma was tried; of these attempts one can retain the quantitative factors which only confirm that the dry air and without phenomena of stormy type
does not allow the production of plasma, and that plasma never persist beyond a few seconds since they are not fed any more.
to John Abrahamson and James Dinniss, University of Canterbury, in New
Zealand, when the lightning touches the ground, it vaporizes carbon and
oxygen, silicon particles, which
join between them to form long chains. Their explanation on the formation of plasma proposes that these filaments, burning rather slowly, tend to be folded up on themselves to form hollow balls
which derive with the liking from the winds. If one considers this work and theories, (which are not largely accepted, but simply because they are not largely known), it would thus have also to be explained
how silicon particles could be in the sky, to take part in it in the formation of plasma.
A student with
Nagano, Japan, July 25, 1987, would have taken the first known
photography in the world of the lightning in ball. Since, many amateurs
projects were carried out and gave some results,
the photographs being always realized under conditions of storms with flash and showing well the appearance of the lightning in ball like following that of the flash. Although this is not the object of our study,
let us note that one of the principal arguments against the reality of the UFOS, that of the too small number of photographs compared to the number of visual observations could be discussed in connection with that.
According to Dr. Michael Persinger, an American researcher, if not they, UFOS are explained by the phenomena of the tectonic lights.
It's theory TST
(Tectonic Strain Theory), indicates that in zones or a seismic activity
caused by considerable pressures between portions of the earth's
crust, there is a piezoelectric phenomenon
whose index appears in the form of stationary lights or with erratic movements, with the top of the ground, appearing with heights going until tens of meters to the top of the ground, and characterized
by varied colours and a longevity going well beyond that of the lightning in ball.
Various well-known places seem well to adapt to this theory, such Marfa in Texas, where these phenomena have occurred way repeated and are observed for several decades.
However, the totality of the arguments developed here about the lightning in ball will also apply without difficulty to the tectonic lights: here, the condition neccesary is not any more the storm
but the tectonic pressures on the rocks. The strongest objections apply: the fact that these electric phenomena piezo appears only near the ground, that these phenomena could not follow planes,
and that they do not correspond at all to the characteristics of the visual observations comprising solid, non-luminous, structured bodies or showing details being able to be interpreted in term of
headlights, port-holes, emissions of rays, and so on. Sensitive to the argument, Dr. Persinger then added a side very discussed even among the traditional scientific community, according to which the
phenomenon even would induce illusory perceptions such as flying saucers and extraterrestrial beings to him dams the brain of the witnesses; let us leave this point outstanding for a future examination,
while granting that it could be an interesting point, but by recalling that this addition with the TST still does not adapt to testimonies of observations concernig planes.
It must be noted
that the consensus of the researchers concerning the lightning in ball
is that it is associated with an ordinary thunderbolt, according to a
flash, which when it dies out, lets on rare occasions some luminous
spheres float in the airs on the level of the ground during a few seconds. Most of the time, these spheres are of yellowish colour drawing towards orange, and of a diameter located between 20 and 40 cm.
Certain testimonies however bring back colours going from the green to blue and the diameters of less than 5 cm until more than 1 meter, though it is necessary to take these estimates of size with as much of prudence
than the estimates of size given by testimonies of UFOS which do not include/understand objective measurement of the sizes and distances.
This consensus etrangement is forgotten or ignored not only by Philip Klass, but also by the majority of the researchers dealing with ufology since they seek to establish that the UFOS would be primarily a natural or commonplace phenomenon.
If one can agree
easily that rare cases of observations of the lightning in ball by
airborne witnesses took place, one notes that the account does not make
null allusion to the least possibility that the phenomenon is other
that of the lightning in ball. On the contrary the accounts of observations of UFOS, which occupy the careful ufologists, show clear characteristics, which exclude the plasmoid- like explanation.
It seems obvious
that Philip Klass, however often cited as having
successfully explained the phenomenon UFO as being caused by plasma,
has in fact only suggested with the explanation of plasmoides
a concerning explanation imagination and pseudoscience. A hardly thorough glance on this explanation shows it to be only one ad hoc proposal, and more of an act of faith.
Stories by witnesses of ball lightning:
from www.amasci.com/weird/unusual/bl.html which indexes some two
hundred testimonies relating to the phenomena of the lightning in ball.
More than 95 percent of these testimonies specify well
that a storm takes place, the few others do not specify that a storm does not take place, or are somewhat suspect, or do not refer necessaril to the lightning in ball. Accounts Ci below at all are not filtered but taken
well in the order; I cannot be shown to have selected cases according to their capacity to support my thesis, as those practise it, which support a contrary thesis. Descriptions of the phenomenon are almost always identical: during a storm,
an incandescent sphere from 10 to 40 cm, which end up bursting at the end of 5 to 30 seconds with a more or less important detonation. A careful researcher will easily find other collections of such accounts.
"There was a particularly nasty thunderstorm in the summer of 1998..."
"This happened during the beginning of a thunderstorm in western lower Michigan..."
"About 5 weeks ago a huge thunder storm approached my house..."
"There was a storm moving in, and ...."
"There was a severe electrical storm outside (sheet and forked lightning)..."
"The ball did not move, and lasted a few minutes, when it seemed to implode. The zigzag lasted for hours. My boyfriend thought it was ball lightning, but it doesn't sound like anything I have read about..."
"It was a summers day... hot, muggy, the air very still and the weather man was calling for thunder storms and rain showers..."
"May of 1997 I was
on a return flight out of Denver, CO heading to St. Louis, MO on a TWA
727 going through a thunderstorm. About 10 minutes
into the flight there was suddenly a glowing sphere of light in the
middle of our plane.
It was very bright and about 12 inches across. It floated motionless for a few seconds then exploded. The sound was loud and frightening..."
"Dad always loved thunderstorms (...) and he and I were sitting out on our old farm porch steps watching one blow by..."
"It was really bad storm so my father and I..."
"When I was younger
(about 8) my dad and I were outside watching the sky, it was getting
late so we were gonna head in, when this bright light I thought was an
airplane started moving across the sky.
When all of a sudden it started moving back and forth very erratically, and started to slow down and all of a sudden it dimmed and disappeared, I found out several years later that several of my friends had seen it also,
and that that stuff had actually been spotted a lot in my area. I thought it was just some weird weather like ball lighting as we were in a stormy weather system, but know I don't have any idea what it is as it was too
bright to be natural. I don't think it was a U.F.O, because that would be ridiculous, but it was definitely weird."
I also give the entirety of
following testimony: null mention of the weather conditions does not
appear there, it is not absurd to suppose that the small yellow light "
of the size of a golf ball "
seen under the counter is the reflection of the eyes of an animal; perhaps the pipe cleaner of the house was not mistaken there when it A leaps towards the thing...
" In 1993 I lived in
Saskatoon in Saskatchewan with my brother and we had a pipe cleaner. We
had had a portable dishwasher in the kitchen close to the sink and the
meter. A friend was on our premises and in evening we all
were upright in the kitchen face to face while causing while I made the coffee. Suddenly I saw a small yellow gleam of the size of a ball of golf, which seemed soft and luminescent approximativment to spout out lower part of the
dishwasher to 3 inches above the floor and it made a soft curve with approximately 3 or 4 feet of the dishwasher and is extinct quickly with a noise like a fssthst.
The other thing, it is that our pipe cleaner ran just behind the ball of light and seemed to drive out the ball of fire right to fall on nothing."
"...one humid may night we had a very intense thunderstorm..."
"...One humid night, we had a bad thunderstorm..."
"The Medieval St
Mary's Church at Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire, UK, suffered an
incident that sounds like ball lightning, one Sunday in July 1779. The
church guidebook (by Elisabeth Everitt & Roy Tricker, 1996)
records that "during divine service the lightning fell upon the spire...a ball of fire descended into the body of the church and burst in the middle aisle with a most violent explosion..."
"My mother, Mrs P. McLeod, witnessed ball lightning in her garden in Dundee, UK, on 26 June 2001, at about 11.00 am. This was during the early stages of a thunderstorm..."
"It was 1962 and I
was in Patrol Squadron Four in the U.S. Navy station on temporary duty
on Adak Island in Alaska. The story was told to me and confirmed by
fellow crewmen of the Tactical Commander of one of
our planes ASW stations. The crew of a P3 Orion were on a routine flight in the Aleutians. Weather was turbulent with distant thunder. During the middle of the flight, a few hours out, a large red glowing translucent object
came through the rear bulkhead of the plane near the galley and slowly "rolled down the deck" passing the tactical command center. Crewmen sucked back their feet less they get touched by it.
Slowing it left through the right fuselage forward of the electronic load center. It did not damage. The Lt. Cmdr said it was the size of a basketball. It was in the plane less than a minute."
"It was a Friday night so my parents let me stay up late. Good thing too, because around 10:30 or so lightning just started striking, one after another after another. ..."
"I'm a professor and
wouldn't want to spin yarns. But several years ago I was driving from
Chicago to Buffalo with my wife and daughter.
We seemed to be travelling east at the same speed as some wicked thunderstorms and heard about tornados near us on the radio..."
"I remember as a kid of about eight when a bad thunderstorm was blowing over our town of Florence, SC. ..."
"It was during a thunderstorm..."
"...Our hooch was struck by lightning during the monsoon. ..."
"During stormy weather."
"...And a small storm was brewing outside. All the sudden I see a ball of light on the power line..."
"my partner and I could see a supercell storm..."
retro-testimony, the witness was nine years old at the time of the
facts and " does not think " that there was a storm. The witness saw a
similar experiment " two days ago,
" it does not say that there was a storm, but testifies well to a thunderclap.
"The first was when
I was about 9 years old. I was standing in my bedroom doorway as a ball
of green-white light (about 3 feet in diameter) streaked from one end
of the house to the other.
My father was standing near the end of the hall where the ball originated and saw it as well. I don't think there was a storm at the time. The second was two days ago. I was at a friend's house,
sitting on the couch watching a movie when we both saw a brilliant ball of blue-white light burst in front of an inside wall, above the fireplace. This was accompanied by a pop and a "fizzt" sound.
At the same time, we could see through a glass door in another room that all of outside was lit in that same blue-white light. A couple seconds later (I had enough time to start asking "what was that?") a huge boom of thunder shook the house."
"...in a torrential
downpour (daylight). Ahead in the distance (difficult to say how far
away) I saw something small and whitish, but not glowing, in the sky
moving right to left.
It then flashed green and continued moving as a very bright greenish glowing spot. It all happened very quickly. My first thoughts were that it could have been a swan or seagull being blown into power lines,
but the green spot continued moving across the sky. I never saw any reports of anything unusual in the press. I wonder if I saw ball lightning."
"I saw a golf ball sized brightly glowing scarlet red ball hover just above ankle height around me for about 5 seconds... appearing and disappearing without effect.
It was on a street at night and I hadn't been drinking
which was also an unusual combination, however it had been raining
shortly before and the night was damp and calm in Autumn,
no thunderstorm had recently taken place as I was aware of certainly I hadn't seen any nearby lightning strike."
"...The area experienced a severe series of electrical rain storms."
"During a thunderstorm..."
"...during a thunderstorm. I noticed a bright ball of light..."
"I was 8 at the time. I was looking out of the front windows of the house, watching the rain. I then saw this bright orange ball..."
"...but I think it was 1962 when hurricane "FREDA" hit Vancouver, British Columbia."
said to have filmed the ball in the lightning, consulted the clear one,
and wonders whether its cassette has some value.
If he had said to have observed a UFO, there is no doubt that this would have been interpreted like attempt at fraud.
"I had the fortunate encounter of what I now learn to be ball lightning by looking it up on the net (...) I had my Sony handycam on ... Could this tape be valuable?"
"...on a hill during a thunderstorm. Not very smart is it?"
"While sitting in my
lounge room, on a stormy night, ..." ." In this
account, a group of friends discuss " paranormal " and the narrator
tells the irruption of a ball of the lightning.
No mention of storm. There still, if a group of people discussing the " paranormal " had brought back an UFO, one would undoubtedly have spoken about " inclinations to see OVNIS."
"Well, we were talking about paranormal things ..."
"One day I was sitting in my living room in a thunderstorm."
"Summer 2001. Camping on top of mountain, a storm stayed all night."
"...and we were stopping at a restaurant during a ferocious thunderstorm."
"There were thunderstorms in the distance..."
"The weather was stormy but not unusually so..."
"One evening a violent storm approached..."
"...one Saturday afternoon just after a thunderstorm."
"There had just been a severe thunderstorm and it was still raining outside..."
No mention of storm, no mention of lack of storm either:
"A Ball Lightning went through my room (...) The ball of lightning was about the size of an orange."