Volcano Lightning, Iceland

Photograph by Sigurdur H. Stefnisson, National Geographic

Lightning cracks during an eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010.

The eruption’s ash clouds delayed European air travel for nearly a week.

Storms over volcanoes contain the same ingredients as storms over your hometown—water droplets, ice, and occasionally hail. The interaction of all of these elements creates an electrical charge that sparks lightning. Active craters add ash to the mix.

(Related: “Iceland Volcano Pictures: Lightning Adds Flash to Ash” and “Pictures: Volcano Lightning, Illuminated.”)

For an in-depth exploration of extreme weather events around the world, readNational Geographic magazine’s September feature “Weather Gone Wild.”

–Tasha Eichenseher




Volcano and Waterspout, Hawaii

Photograph by Steve and Donna O’Meara, National Geographic

The eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano inspires the formation of a waterspout in this undated photo.

Waterspouts can emerge the way traditional tornadoes do, but not always. Many are created when near-surface winds suddenly change direction under a cloud that is producing a growing updraft. Unlike a tornado, a waterspout vortex and funnel cloud are created from the ground, or water, up.

(To learn more about volcanoes, see our video Volcanoes 101 and volcano photo gallery.)

(See more pictures of a recent Kilauea eruption: “Kilauea Volcano Pictures: Hawaii Eruption Spurts Lava.”)



Frozen Lighthouse, Michigan

Photograph by Mike Gatch, Your Shot

A Lake Michigan lighthouse takes the brunt of a frigid winter in Saint Joseph, Michigan.

The southeastern shores of all of the Great Lakes often experience lake-effect snow. When strong winds blow across an unfrozen and relatively warm lake, the moist air coming off the water encounters cooler temperatures over land and lake water becomes precipitation, or ice.

(See pictures of other winter wonders.)


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