Beth Surbeck and son Ben, 12, were watching a thunderstorm in Lutherville when "a bright orange flash arose from ... our macadam road, and there was an audible pop," but no lightning or thunder. "What might have caused this?" Sounds like the discharge of a "positive streamer," a channel of ionized air that leaps from the ground to meet "stepped leaders" descending from the clouds. Where they connect, lightning strikes. Where they don't, the streamer discharges with a feeble "pop."