Rare lightning show captured on Mauna Kea summit

By Cam Tran
Published On: Dec 31 2013 07:56:55 PM HST

Storms on the Big Island produce tens of thousands of lightning strikes.

HONOLULU -

Conditions were calmer on the Big Island Tuesday morning, but the recent storms produced tens of thousands of lightning strikes.

Cameras on top of Mauna Kea captured the rare lightning show.

Click here to watch Cam Tran's report.

"It's fairly rare to get this much lightning in a such a short amount of time," said Mike Cantin, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea captured the towering thunderstorms forming on the windward side of the Big Island Sunday evening through Monday morning.  The time-lapse video also showcases the array lightning bolts associated with the storm.

"We saw deep instability so the thunderstorms grew very tall mixed with all the ice in the upper level so the atmosphere that helped to generate all that static electricity and a lot of lightning strikes," said Cantin.

The National Weather Service tracks those strikes and says there were roughly 10,000 to 20,000 of them over a two-day period.  Cantin says most were inner cloud, meaning they never hit the surface.

"It was a great view from the summit to watch all this happen and not get impacted by the lightning," said Cantin.

About 13,000 feet up these powerful storms brought snow and ice on the summit of Mauna kea.  On the ground, it produced soaking rain.  It's fascinating to see Mother Nature's fury from a safe spot.

"It shows us in Hawaii we do get lightning and thunderstorms and it can be dangerous and when this happens, you want to get inside.  May be fascinating to look at but you want to be inside to be safe and stay away from it," said Cantin. 

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