Weather and the Paranormal

One of the current theories in paranormal investigation is that certain types of weather conditions may enhance paranormal activity. So, is it possible that cold or rain could affect the activity on a paranormal investigation?

The American Heritage dictionary defines weather as “the state of the atmosphere at a given time and place, with respect to variables such as temperature, moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure.”

The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Energy can, however, be transferred from one place to another and from one form to another.  Weather (and the changes in it) is caused by a transfer of energy. The earth is constantly keeping a balance between the solar radiation energy coming through the atmosphere from the sun, and what is bouncing off the earth and back out into space. If paranormal entities use energy to manifest, then it seems reasonable to think that fluctuations in weather conditions (i.e., fluctuations in energy) could potentially affect the level of paranormal activity at a location. 

For example, temperature and barometric pressure are both methods of quantifying the energy of molecules in the air at any one time. Temperature is the measurement of the average speed of air molecules: as the average kinetic energy of the air molecules increases, temperature increases. Similarly, barometric pressure, or air pressure, is the result of molecules in the air colliding. When these molecules run into each other (kinetic energy), electrons are transferred and electro-magnetic energy is created. The more rapidly the molecules collide with each other and other objects, the higher the air pressure1. 

In theory, the energy involved in these two processes could influence the energy potentially available to a paranormal entity. Recording the current temperature and barometric pressure reading at the site of your investigation may help you see patterns in activity in relation to these types of weather conditions. However, be aware that changes in air pressure affect some people physically: many people get mild headaches, migraines, or worsening arthritis pain from these changes. These physical symptoms could be mistaken for signs of paranormal activity affecting an investigator or client.

The humidity at a given location (both inside and outside of a building) may also be of importance during a paranormal investigation. Humidity is the measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air. The percentage is a measurement of “relative humidity,” which is the ratio of the amount of water vapor currently in the air to its maximum water vapor capacity at a given temperature. Humidity helps regulate air temperature by absorbing thermal radiation from both the Earth and the sun. When water changes physical state (liquid to water vapor or vice versa), energy (called latent heat) is involved. Water vapor has a high energetic state. Humidity is directly proportional to the latent energy available to generate storms. Energy is absorbed during evaporation and released during condensation as rain. The process of water vapor condensing into rain releases energy that could then be available for use in another way. This exchange of energy may explain some investigators’ observations of increased paranormal activity during storms. Humidity can also help offer a natural explanation for potential activity. Rooms that people feel uneasy in (especially in basements) should be checked for high humidity. This could indicate the presence of mold which could be causing headaches, dizziness, and nausea. If the mold is toxic, symptoms can be much worse and include depression, memory problems, rashes, and respiratory issues. There are accurate and fairly inexpensive wireless thermometer/hygrometers available that can be used to measure temperature and humidity.

Besides making investigating more difficult because of noise contamination, wind could possibly influence paranormal activity. Wind is created by a difference in pressure systems causing air to accelerate from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure, transferring energy from one place to another. Strong winds indicate a significant pressure difference between air masses of different densities, which is why strong winds will usually accompany strong storms. Again, if paranormal activity is related to energy, this movement of energy could create a swing in the paranormal activity at a location.

Thunderstorms are frequently cited for enhancing paranormal activity. They may make the whole investigation creepier, but could they actually enhance paranormal activity? Lightning is caused by a buildup of oppositely charged ions in the clouds and on the ground. When the build-up of charged ions is greater than the resistance of the air, lightning occurs. A lightning discharge generates electro-magnetic energy fields (EMF) which have been theorized to be associated with paranormal activity. The majority of lightning strikes are cloud to cloud - only 20% are cloud to ground. Thunder, then, is basically a supersonic shock wave created when the energy in the returning stroke (temperature and pressure) is higher than the energy in the surrounding air. It is plausible that this charge and subsequent discharge of the Earth’s natural electrical field could make it easier for paranormal phenomena to occur.

There are a few weather phenomena that could possibly be confused for paranormal phenomena, a couple examples are ball lightning and St. Elmo’s fire. Ball lightning is a rare and controversial (but probably natural) weather phenomenon usually occurring in association with thunderstorms. One theory of what ball lightning could be is cloud of plasma2 created by the highly charged atmosphere during a thunderstorm. Another theory postulates that particles in vapor which may form when lightning hits the ground mix with the oxygen in the air, releasing chemical energy as the compound burns. Reports have been recorded as early as the 1600’s of balls of lightning ranging in size from golf to beach balls, some even larger. Given its rarity and the reportedly bizarre behavior, ball lightning could easily be mistaken for a paranormal event. For example, many reported sightings assert that these balls of electrical energy can pass through walls and doors, some leaving damage and some seemingly pass through without leaving a trace. Pilots in World War II saw them frequently enough to name them “foo fighters.” They generally last longer than a typical lightning bolt, several seconds up to several minutes, and may seem to hover or move slowly. Some reports describe the objects making sizzling or popping sounds. The descriptions of dissipation range from just dissolving quietly to exploding and leaving damage in the area.
St. Elmo’s Fire, another naturally occurring weather phenomenon, is typically seen during thunderstorms as a bright purple or blue glow (sometimes described as looking like fire) at the top of pointed objects like church spires, ship masts, lightning rods, and airplane wings. This luminous plasma is caused by the ionization of the air molecules in close proximity to a grounded object in the electrically charged atmosphere during a thunderstorm. It has been reported to make a slight hissing sound. Again, its rarity means it could often be mistaken for paranormal activity, especially as it tends to occur near buildings and other landmarks to which people may attach a historical or emotional significance.

As the paranormal is a developing field, there are no right or wrong answers to whether or not a certain weather condition could enhance or suppress paranormal activity. However, the reports from many paranormal investigators seem to point to the possibility. Since weather is caused by changes in energy and paranormal activity may be linked to energy, it is a theory that should be studied further and documented scientifically.

1 On the earth’s surface, air pressure is measured in millibars or inches with the average barometric pressure being 1013.25mb or 29.92in.

2 A “cloud” of charged particles. Plasma is a separate state of matter as it’s characteristics do not fit the definitions of liquid, gas, or solid matter.