The red arrow points from Lucena's camera to the Gigantic Jets
© Frankie Lucena
The red arrow points from Lucena's camera to the Gigantic Jets
On Aug. 22nd, Tropical Storm Laura passed by Puerto Rico. Just as it was bearing down on the island, the intensifying storm fired off two Gigantic Jets. Frankie Lucena video recorded the tree-shaped bolts using a low-light camera in the coastal town Cabo Rojo.

Gigantic Jets are related to sprites, only much bigger. They fly out of the tops of some thunderstorms and can reach all the way to the edge of space. That's why some people call them "space lightning." They are a sign of intense electrical activity in the storm below.

"This appears to be a rare Type II Gigantic Jet event," says Lucena. Gigantic Jets come in three types. Type II events start out as Blue Jets, then transform into Gigantic Jets. The metamorphosis is not well understood. "Out of the more than 40 Gigantic Jets I've captured over the years in the Caribbean, only three of them might be Type IIs"--so very rare indeed.


In addition to Gigantic Jets, Lucena also captured sprites and ELVEs dancing above the tropical storm. Watch his complete video here.

Tropical Storm Laura is now passing Cuba en route to the southeastern USA. Photographers there may wish to train their cameras above Laura's cloudtops--because not all lightning goes down.