Gigantic Jet Lightning Events
© Frankie Lucena
Gigantic Jet lightning event on September 5, 2020 @ Cabo Rojo,Puerto Rico
Tropical waves may not be the biggest storms in the Caribbean, but they produce some of the biggest lightning. On Sept. 5th, Frankie Lucena pointed his video camera at a tropical wave passing just south of Puerto Rico, and this is what he saw.

"I recorded some very impressive Gigantic Jet lightning events and clusters of sprites," he says. "They were huge."

For years, Lucena has been watching sprites and Gigantic Jets leap up from passing storms. Interestingly, he says, weaker systems often produce the strongest upward-directed lightning. "Based on my observations so far, I would say that intensifying tropical waves have the most sprites. Often these systems go on to become hurricanes."


Once a storm becomes a hurricane, however, sprite activity seems to subside. Lucena has surveyed many passing hurricanes with relatively little success in catching sprites and Gigantic Jets. According to NASA, hurricanes produce less regular lightning, too. Swirling hurricanes typically lack the vertical winds required to charge up a storm and unleash powerful bolts. Perhaps sprites subside for the same reason.

Another tropical wave is forming near Africa, and it could potentially reach the Caribbean next week.