The man in this viral video may look like he’s acquired new superpowers worthy of a Marvel movie franchise, but what he’s actually experiencing is the rare natural phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s fire.
Footage filmed on Lake Monona in the US city of Madison, Wisconsin this week shows Rudy Moore and a friend experiencing small blue sparks on their finger tips as well as a static noise.
Moore’s friend is startled by the rare phenomenon, but he is adamant the answer lies in science. He’s right.
The St. Elmo’s fire phenomenon occurs when tiny charges in electricity from an object meet the naturally occurring charges in the air.
If the charges in the air are unusually high, often caused by a nearby storm, the clash can be so great that currents ionize and, when combined with nitrogen and oxygen, produce a blue color.
In Moore’s case, a snowstorm close by filled the air with the buzz of electricity. Moore and his friend experienced the phenomenon for a few minutes, but told local TV station WISC that when they later returned to the lake, it no longer occurred.
The phenomenon is usually seen by pilots when streaks of electricity appear on a plane when flying through a thunderstorm.
Sailors used to associate the phenomenon with luck and named it after St. Erasmus, also known as Elmo, the patron saint of sailors.
“St. Elmo’s Fire” is also the title of a 1985 ‘brat pack’ film, which recently made Consequence of Sound’s “Worst Movie Ever list”, as well as the song by John Parr.
WISC meteorologist Bob Lesh confirmed that what Moore experienced was most likely the St. Elmo’s phenomenon, but let’s not rule out that maybe his lineage comes from a galaxy far far away.
Or perhaps the electricity is coming from the spirit of Otis Redding and the members of the Bar-Kays who died in a plane crash into Lake Monona.
Monona is part of a chain of lakes which includes the larger Mendota, where pranksters built a partial replica of the Statue of Liberty on top of the frozen ice. Those maniacs!