The Door to Hell. Perpetual lightning. A blood-red lake where flamingos get down with each other. They sound like the stuff of science fiction (and perhaps one very strange adult film), but they all occur on Earth. Check out these terrifying natural phenomenon that you might be astounded to learn actually exist.
Over the mouth of the Catatumbo River in Venezuela is a lightning storm that's almost always raging. The atmospheric phenomenon is likely caused by winds blowing over a nearby lake, causing lightning to illuminate the skies nearly half the year. Strangely, the lightning ceased in the spring of 2010, causing some locals to think that the storm had finally stopped. But it was probably due to a drought that occurred around that time.
At first glance, you might think that a circumhorizontal arc is a rainbow. But then you'd notice its horizontal shape and you'd enter a full-fledged weather-existential panic. Circumhorizontal arcs are formed by light refracting off of ice particles suspended in the atmosphere. They're sometimes called "Fire Rainbows," which is technically off-base because there's nothing hot about this phenomenon.
Though the name might sound harmless, you don't want to get caught near the ripping winds of a waterspout. Known to form during severe thunderstorms, waterspouts form and dissipate quickly, and they're powerful enough to sink boats. Steer clear.
The sailing stone phenomenon is (or was) one of the strangest natural mysteries out there. Just stranger than, you know, the question of why anything at all exists in this vast, cruel universe. ANYWAY, the phenomenon is basically this: Heavy stones have, for centuries, been observed to seemingly "sail" across land with no human or animal assistance, as evidenced by the long trails the stones leave in the ground. After researches studied time-lapsed footage of sailing stones in 2014, they determined that the phenomenon only occurs under specific conditions, some of which include a saturated yet non-flooded surface, a thin layer of clay, very strong gusts as initiating force, and strong sustained wind to keep stones going. If this phenomenon sounds familiar, you may have seen it referenced in this popular cartoon a few times.
About 1,000 feet across and 400 feet deep, the Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize looks like a portal into the void. And it basically is — divers routinely explore the hole, which is surrounded by shallow coral, and say it's one of the most unique diving spots in the world.
Don't worry: If you see these, chances are you're not being abducted to the mothership, yet (that's in 2020). The crystal beam phenomenon, also known as light pillars, occurs when light (coming from the sun or moon, usually) reflects off of ice particles trapped in the atmosphere, which produces a vertical column of light.
The snow chimneys on Antarctica's Mount Erebus (the world's southernmost volcano) might seem unlikely — volcanic activity on the coldest continent seems out of place. Mount Erebus has been more or less constantly active since 1972, causing these chimneys to puff out smoke over the frozen landscape.
There's a door to hell that thousands visit annually, and we swear it's not the side-stage door to a Meghan Trainor concert. The door is actually a football-field-sized natural gas field in Turkmenistan that formed when an underground cavern collapsed in 1971. It still burns to this day.
We're pretty sure the ending of 1997's "Contact" was based off this phenomenon. Bioluminescent waves are made possible thanks to marine microbes called phytoplankton. Scientists think the microbes have a special channel in their cell membrane that causes them to produce light. We're just trying to get ahold of them for our next Halloween party.
Asperitas is a newly classified cloud phenomenon that was catalogued by the guys over at the Cloud Appreciation Society, a raucous bunch of rabble-rousers who throw wild, depraved parties (or so we've heard from an anonymous source). Not much is known about how or why they form, but they don't usually indicate a coming storm, despite their gloomy appearance.
Pufferfish have been known to create elaborate formations on the ocean floor in order to woo females — a technique we've found ineffective when used on land-dwelling female humans.
UFO clouds, more accurately called lenticular clouds, form in the troposphere and are lens-shaped. Earlier this year, lenticular clouds spooked some Cape Towners who thought the alien invasion was finally happening.
Sinkholes are caused by some form of collapse in the land just below ground level. They can be deadly, too, like the 2007 sinkhole in Guatemala that killed five and caused thousands to evacuate the surrounding area.
Lake Natron, a salt and soda lake that looks like a big pool of blood, isn't just unique for its alien appearance. The African lake is also the annual breeding ground for some 2.5 million flamingos who enjoy the mineral-rich waters, warm temperatures, and the laissez-faire attitude toward flamingo sex.