Though a lightning bolt radiates pure white light, various atmospheric conditions can tint the brilliant flash into a rainbow of electrical colors. Red, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple, violet, cyan, and orange are all possible lightning colors, depending upon the presence of water vapor, dust, pollution, rain, or hail.
Just as lightning is said never to strike twice in the same place, no two lightning bolts are ever exactly the same color. In fact, different branches of the same bolt can exhibit different colors, due to temperature variations. The hotter the bolt, the bluer or whiter it will appear, and the cooler it is, the more orange or red. Because lightning heats the air as it travels, the presence of different gasses will also lend color as they ignite.
Weather expert Dan Robinson explains that different film stocks, exposure times, and camera types can also bring colour to lightning. "The same lightning channel can appear blue, purple, red or orange depending on the type of film, length of exposure, and other factors. Slide film is more likely to produce a more purple/blue image, while print film tends to give lightning a more yellow/orange tint."
Lightning Fun facts:
A double rainbow and lightning bolt, by tenfrozentoes.
Here is a sampling of lightning from the COLOURlovers library:
About the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow