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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

    Here's a report on John P. Finley's (a pioneer in the investigation of tornados) encounter with electrically charged snow on Pike's Peak.

    The story of a very remarkable snowstorm is told says "Scientific Siftings" by Lt John P. Finley, one of the best informed meterologists in the United States, who encountered the storm in making an ascent of Pike's Peak. He says that the storm could be described as a "shower of cold fire." In reality it was so charged with electricity as to present a scene more easily imagined than described. At first the flakes discharged their tiny lights only on coming into contact with the hair of the mule on which the Lt. was mounted. Presently they began coming thicker and faster, each flake emitting its spark as it sank into drifts of snow, or settled on the clothing of the Lt, or the hair of the mule. As the storm increased and the flakes became smaller, each of the icy particles appeared as a trailing blaze of ghostly white light; and the noise produced by the constant electric explosions conveyed an expression of Nature's power which Lt. Finley will never forget. When the storm was at its height and each flake of snow was like a drop of fire, electric sparks were shaken in streams from the Lt's finger tips as well from his ears, beard and nose and a wave of his arms was like the sweep of flaming sword-blades through the air , every point of snow touched giving out its little snap and little flash of light. This phenomenon, though rather rare, is by no means new to meteorologists, it haveing been recorded several times before. By some authors, it seems to have been treated as a sort of phosphorence, but if Lt Finley's description is correct there can be no doubt that in this case each flake was charged with electricity.

    Date article appeared was September 1899.

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    Here's a report on John P. Finley's (a pioneer in the investigation of tornados) encounter with electrically charged snow on Pike's Peak.

    The story of a very remarkable snowstorm is told says "Scientific Siftings" by Lt John P. Finley, one of the best informed meterologists in the United States, who encountered the storm in making an ascent of Pike's Peak. He says that the storm could be described as a "shower of cold fire." In reality it was so charged with electricity as to present a scene more easily imagined than described. At first the flakes discharged their tiny lights only on coming into contact with the hair of the mule on which the Lt. was mounted. Presently they began coming thicker and faster, each flake emitting its spark as it sank into drifts of snow, or settled on the clothing of the Lt, or the hair of the mule. As the storm increased and the flakes became smaller, each of the icy particles appeared as a trailing blaze of ghostly white light; and the noise produced by the constant electric explosions conveyed an expression of Nature's power which Lt. Finley will never forget. When the storm was at its height and each flake of snow was like a drop of fire, electric sparks were shaken in streams from the Lt's finger tips as well from his ears, beard and nose and a wave of his arms was like the sweep of flaming sword-blades through the air , every point of snow touched giving out its little snap and little flash of light. This phenomenon, though rather rare, is by no means new to meteorologists, it haveing been recorded several times before. By some authors, it seems to have been treated as a sort of phosphorence, but if Lt Finley's description is correct there can be no doubt that in this case each flake was charged with electricity.

    Date article appeared was September 1899.

    Amazing read Mr.D................one question,would the flakes have hurt/stung as they made contact with skin?

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    Posted
  • Location: Left of centre off of the strip
  • Location: Left of centre off of the strip

    I can imagine it happening and it would only occur in very dry air. Pikes Peak (i've climbed it) is about 14,000 ft and borders the dry plains of Colorado's east. I wonder if the glow would have been a form of St. Elmo's fire?

    Of course it is also possible that the physical exertion in an oxygen deprived atmosphere at such high altitude (4300m+) could make him see things that were not there, but I can imagine that this is a plausible phenomenon. However, in my 15 odd years working in snowbound places, I have never seen it.

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