Volcanic eruption sparks lightning display in the Philippines

A volcano that sent thousand fleeing also sparked a lot of lightning over the weekend

TAAL, Philippines – A volcano sent thousands fleeing and shut down air travel around Manila over the weekend. The Taal eruption caused ash to travel more than 60 miles north to the Philippine’s capital Sunday, but it also sparked quite the lightning display.

Video spread across social media, showing the vivid strikes through a plume of ash and soot that extends high into the sky. Lightning during these kinds of eruptions does happen, whereas lava flows aren’t going to cause that display.

Extremely hot air surrounding the lava continues to rise, in addition to the massive vertical eruption. A pyrocumulus cloud forms, much like what we see during intense wildfires. The ash and soot within the cloud collide, and that friction causes frequent lightning to occur.

How volcanoes cause lightning

Taal is considered one of the most volatile of nearly a dozen volcanoes in the Philippines, lying in the earthquake and volcano-prone “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific. Some coastal communities have evacuated, and other areas have shut down businesses and schools due to ashfall.

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