Volcanic mountains

Photos of volcanic storm on Etna look like something out of Lord of the Rings

Volcanic lightning strikes Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, during an eruption on Friday, February 11, 2022.

Volcanic lightning strikes Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, during an eruption on Friday, February 11, 2022.
Photo: Emilio Messina (PA)

A powerful eruption last week from Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy created a volcanic storm so powerful it lit up the sky with a dramatic flash.

The eruption began late last Thursday and threw volcanic ash more than a kilometer above sea level, according to the Associated Press. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in Europe and breaks out frequently. You’d think all this activity would scare the locals away, but despite being one of the continent’s most active and dangerous volcanoes, around a million people live on the slopes of Mount Etna and c is a popular tourist attraction.

A volcanic storm over Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, during an eruption on Friday, February 11, 2022.

A volcanic storm over Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, during an eruption on Friday, February 11, 2022.
Photo: Emilio Messina (PA)

These”dirty stormsare supposed to occur when friction between the ash particles creates an electrical charge that triggers lightning strikes around large ash plumes.

According to a Earther Report 2019, the volcano attracts tourism to the area – every time an eruption destroys the cable car leading to the top of the volcano, it is rebuilt. The wreckage of the former is left in place for passers-by to view as they climb the mountain.

An eruption on Etna on February 10, 2022.

An eruption on Etna on February 10, 2022.
Photo: Salvatore Allegra/Anadolu Agency (Getty Images)

The volcano also supports the local wine industry. The “microclimates” created by the volcano and the minerals in the soil benefit the grapes. One winemaker even told Earther in 2019 that due to the growing conditions, the risk of living near Mount Etna was outweighed by the benefits.

Unlike Mount Etna, a notable eruption in Tonga earlier this year was so powerful and destructivescientists have proposed a new “ultra” classification to better describe it. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano killed three people, created tsunamis and damaged a underwater fiber optic cablecutting off Tonga’s phone and Internet access.