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Rare and spectacular ‘sprites’ light up sky over Hurricane Matthew

This Twitter user posted photos of the spectacular sprite light show over Hurricane Matthew over the weekend.
This Twitter user posted photos of the spectacular sprite light show over Hurricane Matthew over the weekend. Frankie Lucena

People who saw a spectacular light show from Puerto Rico over the weekend might have thought the sky was on fire.

High above the thunderstorm clouds of Hurricane Matthew, upper atmospheric lightning strikes — called sprites — exploded in a dazzling array of red flashes across the sky.

The large-scale electrical discharges are a rare sight, among the strangest of atmospheric quirks, and difficult to photograph because they last for mere milliseconds.

Photographer Fankie Lucena managed to grab images in the late evening hours of Sept. 30 and early morning of Oct. 1, and posted them on Twitter.

This show is said to be one of the largest bursts ever caught on camera.

The sprites flashed near Aruba and Colombia and could be seen from parts of Puerto Rico, according to The Weather Channel.

Sprites are typically weak bursts of energy released directly over an active thunderstorm cloud with cloud-to-ground lightning below, according to the meteorological society. They’re also known as upward lightning.

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