Yesterday I unfortunately found myself having to attend a funeral which is unpleasant enough on its own without it taking place outside in the early afternoon in August, which it was. As we made our way to the tent where the ceremony was taking place it began to pour, which caused everyone in attendance to try to squeeze under the tent. Right after the start of the service thunder began rumbling. Instinctively I looked up look up and only saw the green fabric of the tent supported by a large number of metal poles. I thought to myself, “Being among 70+ people standing under a metal structure during a thunderstorm in a cemetery is a less than ideal Sunday afternoon”. I kept this thought to myself though as interrupting the rabbi to request a lightning delay would likely have been frowned upon. However the experience prompted me to share a few of the incredible lightning strike videos that have popped up on my twitter feed recently.
I am fascinated by lightning, but I (stupidly) used to have a rather cavalier attitude towards it until a close call a couple of years ago. I’ll get to that in a bit, but first I wanted to share some recent crazy videos and images of what is probably the most unpredictable and powerful natural phenomenon on the planet.
You have probably seen pictures of what a tree looks like after it is hit by lightning, but this video will let you see what happens at the moment a tree is struck. (hint, it explodes).
This next image comes from our own backyard, the tarmac at Bush IAH. A passenger managed to capture a bolt striking the tarmac and the airport later posed pictures of the pothole left behind (as a bonus, watch the reaction of the cart driver in the middle of the screen right after the strike).
Dangerous cloud to ground lightning at IAH. pic.twitter.com/i0cuSGY78P
— IAH_SOC (@iah_soc) July 13, 2017
Wednesday. Bush Airport. Terminal E, Gate 4. No one was hurt, but that bolt left a hole in the ground! pic.twitter.com/SuIV3rj1TA
— Travis Herzog (@HerzogWeather) July 14, 2017
This last video comes from an airport in Florida where a tarmac worker was hit by a bolt which struck the plane he was standing next to and jumped to him (skip to about the 23 second mark for the action).
— KPRC 2 Houston (@KPRC2) August 2, 2017
Thankfully he survived, but did suffer pretty severe burns. It is pretty rare to get a video of the moment someone is struck. Did you notice how his body went completely stiff after the flash and just tipped backwards like he was made out of stone. Lightning will f*** you up.
Now back to that close call I mentioned. About 3 years ago my wife and I had just gotten a new puppy. We lived in an apartment and I could see a storm was on the way so I decided to take the dog downstairs to pee before it started raining. Once outside I heard thunder off in the distance but it didn’t deter me. I had just crossed the street from my apartment to get to my dog’s preferred pee spot when I started hearing a very distinct hissing sound, almost like static on a radio (ie. what you heard on 97.5 until recently). Before I could fully process what was going on there was a blinding flash and simultaneous head splitting crack of thunder that thoroughly shook up my innards. It was only after the dog and I had sprinted back inside did I realize what occurred. Weird things can happen just prior to a lightning strike as the air prepares for the massive electric discharge. People have reported their hair standing straight up, the tips of metal objects glowing, and yes even the air hissing immediately before the bolt. After that experience I think a little harder before I go outside when I know there is lightning near by. As for my dog, she somehow is not phased by lightning and thunder, even after that close call. Unlike her owner she will sleep right through a storm without so much as lifting a paw.