Do you know that lightning from a thunderstorm cloud not only hits the ground, but it also shoots upward into the stratosphere, in a phenomenon known as sprites?

Photographer Paul M Smith does – and late last month he set out to capture it after a series of unusually severe spring storms developed in the southeast region of the United States.

As residents on April 22 took shelter from golf-ball-sized hail and dangerous tornadoes, sprites were emerging high above the thunderstorms.

“There were tornado warnings and very large hail throughout the night,” Smith, of Edmond in Oklahoma, told “I photographed the sprites through a clearing around midnight.”

Sprites are another form of electrical discharge from large storm clouds. While normal lightning reaches from the cloud base to the ground,

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