Numerous eyewitnesses in Flintshire county, Wales reported seeing a strange blue flash on the morning of Thursday, February 7. Welsh social media channels were inundated with posts and pictures of the event taken from dash cameras and cellphones along with a wide range of speculation about what could have caused the event. While industrial causes are suspected, some Flintshire residents aren’t so sure.
The flash occurred around 6:30 am and momentarily lit up a large portion of the early morning sky with a mysterious blue glow. A police officer based in Hawarden, Flintshire caught the glow on his cash cam, posting it to Twitter. As speculation began to veer into the “ALIENS!” direction, a spokesperson for the Hawarden Police helicopter team suggested the anomalous flash could have been the result of ball lightning.
Ball lightning is a little understood atmospheric electrical phenomenon often cited as an explanation for UFO or ghost sightings. There have been hundreds of eyewitness accounts and anecdotal reports over the centuries of fast-moving, luminous balls of electricity travelling along electrical conduits, down the sails of ships, running along the ground, in submarines or airplane cockpits, or even flying straight through people’s houses with no explanation. Ball lightning has even been reported to explode and leave behind a sulfur smell. Ball lightning is suspected to be behind the reports of “foo fighters” pilots witnessed during World War II.
While the blue flash in Wales very well could have been caused by ball lightning, it would have had to have been a very large occurrence in order to light up such a large area of the early morning sky. According to local news reports, a high-voltage power line was severed by a fallen tree not far from where most of the reports of the blue flash came in. There are many accounts of ball lightning occurring in the vicinity of electrical infrastructure, so it may be that the two events are related. Unfortunately, most instances of ball lightning only last for a few seconds and rarely leave behind any physical evidence. Was this blue flash merely an electrical explosion due to a fallen line, or could it have indeed been one of the rarest natural phenomena on Earth? This one will likely remain a mystery.