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20 feet away from being a pile of ashes!

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I was standing 20 feet away from this tree as it was obliterated by a powerful lightning bolt. The force of the strike sent fragments of the tree through the roof of the house next door. Causing an Attic fire.

I was facing the opposite direction. shooting an oncoming line of storms. I was standing with my foot in the car, camera in my right hand and hand on the roof of the car.

Weird part is. Just before the strike I touched something in my car and got a little shock, like you would get from static electricity. So I ducked in the car, to listen to my radio, and the next thing I hear is...... is this dull rushing sound. I wish I had video to know what I mean. It was like a low roar of a plane passing over and thats when the :pOP: and EXPLOSION came. I thought it hit me or the car. I felt like the air had been sucked out of me and my chest hurt. Then about 10 seconds later I hear screaming. I look over to my left to see the house on fire. Half the tree fell on the house. Causing a fire to start in the 2nd floor of the house and another portion fell through the roof in the family room. An older lady lived in that house and was not home at the time. But the neighbors (whom did the screaming) were already out on the front porch and called the fire dept.

I felt like someone hit me in the chest with a sledgehammer and had the smell of ozone(if that makes sense) I never got that tingly/hair raising feeling though. Loudest noise I ever heard.
 
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wow dude glad to see your still around. I have to find the tree pics of my house. peeled it like a banana. Ive had a similar experience i was watching a storm out my window then a loud pop and boom, the concusion of the blast knocked me to the floor. later i smelt burning and couldnt figure where it was from until i found the phone line smoldering about 40ft across the living room!!! take care stay safe.
 
Glad you're okay Dan, but did you have the paramedics just check you out anyway? Sometimes an electrical shock, seemingly the most little thing, can cause problems later with your cardiac rhythm. If you felt the shock, hope you had it checked out! And again, glad you're okay.

That would certainly warrant a change of the underpants! ;-)
 
Yeah. My dad was with me. He is a fire fighter/EMT. So suffice to say I am still alive and kicking today!!! Was pretty insane though. Thanks for the concerns. Thank god I ducked into the car though. I couldn't imagine what would have happened if I was standing outside. Yesh!
 
Note to self... when chasing, stay away from Drummond and Neal. j/k

About the only crazy thing that ever happened to me was, one time, while chasing with the wife, I got out to grab a softball size hailstone, and another golfball size clonked me on the top of the head. Yeah, it shattered - the hailstone that is! My wife just looked at me and said, "see what I mean." :mad: :D
 
Bah, Neal's got nothing on Drummond! How many close calls have you had now, David? I was just telling someone the other day about the legendary chaser that everyone stays at least 50 yards from at all times... ;)
 
Bah, Neal's got nothing on Drummond! How many close calls have you had now, David? I was just telling someone the other day about the legendary chaser that everyone stays at least 50 yards from at all times... ;)


Haha. That was my closest call. Others have hit 100 yards away so nothing too noteworthy. Dave's got me beat by far!
 
Count me in as another member of the CSBLC (Chasers Struck By Lightning Club). Ironically, I got struck on a non-chase day.

In late June last summer (don't remember the exact day) we had just had a severe t-storm pass overhead from the northwest. It was mostly gusty outflow winds and quarter size hail, nothing to write home about. The storm had passed, and it had stopped raining. The thunder was quite distant, so I decided to walk out to the end of our driveway 100 yards northwest of our house to see if any more convection was firing. I walked out there in nothing but some jean shorts and a pair of sandals. The storm base was about 10 miles to the southeast, moving away at a good clip. Seeing no more convection, I turned around and started walking back towards the house.
Just at that moment, a true 'bolt from the blue' blasted out the side of the storm over 10 miles away and struck the pasture across the road from our house, about 50 yards or so to the west of where I was standing. Mere seconds before it happened, my hair on my arms and the back of my neck prickled. One second I was walking towards the house, the next moment there was a blinding flash of light from behind me, I felt the air heat up like a blast furnace and electricity shooting through my body and I was knocked to the ground. The concussion was the single loudest sound I've ever heard in my life, I'm surprised it didn't rupture my ear drums. It sounded like a nuclear explosion amplified a thousand times.​
The weirdest thing about it was other than feeling like I couldn't breathe for a few frightening moments and the fact my heart was racing so uncontrollably I thought it was going to burst right out of my chest and start break dancing on the driveway, I felt perfectly fine. I returned to the house and told my parents what happened. They were pretty freaked outand wanted me to go to the ER, but I felt fine, so I didn't, which wasn't particulularly smart of me.
Perhaps the most bizarre part of the whole incident was the fact that for the next couple of hours, whenever I would get within a foot of a light switch or an electrical outlet, a small spark would jump from my finger to the switch or outlet! About two hours after the strike, I had the worst muscle pain I've ever experienced in my life. I went to bed early barely able to walk, and woke up the next morning feeling like nothing had ever happened. My family has now given me the affectionate pet name of 'Lightning Rod' because of this incident.:D
I know I should have gone to the ER, but I'm a true country boy in the fact that I like to avoid medical treatment unless absolutely necessary.

I figure something so bizarre could only happen to me. I tend to be a magnet for freak accidents and strange occurrences, so this is nothing new for me if you can believe that. :rolleyes:
I definitely thank God I'm alive. If I had been hit by the main bolt rather than one of the secondary bolts, I would have been fried like an egg on a sidewalk in Phoenix on the tenth of July. It scared the piss out of me, and I have a MUCH greater respect for lightning now than beforehand for sure.
 
Bah, Neal's got nothing on Drummond! How many close calls have you had now, David? I was just telling someone the other day about the legendary chaser that everyone stays at least 50 yards from at all times... ;)

I stopped counting in 2005. After all those headaches I had after April 30, 04 I hope I don't have any more leader or direct hits.
 
I've had 1 close call, it was about 5 years ago, in late July, we had a large series of severe thunderstorms that were popping up over the UK, from S England, up through Wales and across the Irish Sea, to Northern Ireland :)

The storm came rolling in from the SE at around 6:30pm, it was pretty handy because it was drifting NNW, and so, I decided to stay at home because I knew that I didn't need to travel, as I was getting a great view from my vantage point, as I was getting the lightning from the both the tower and from the anvil, which was very sweet indeed :)

I stood out in the front yard with my camera and tripod, and I was getting plenty of strikes within a mile of me, and the best thing was, I could feel the static in the hairs in my arms as they stood up and occasionally buzzed, at times you could actually smell the charge, but anyways, the closest strike hit a street lamp, which was about 15ft away from me and the sound blast from the strike was just awesome :)

The best thing about this storm though was, the lightning strikes, were positive lightning strikes, as I could tell that they were more powerful, by the length of time that each strike had lasted for and also from the loudness of the aftershock, which was quite a bit louder, than many other aftershocks that I had heard :)

Anyways, the storm had been zapping and growling for about 30 minutes, as it was pretty slow moving, and I loved every moment of it :), except for 1 thing!!....

My brother had been to visit the night before, and I showed him the new camera, as I had got it that day, but of course, he had been fiddling around with it, and the idiot move the focus switch from AF to MF, which proved to be a pain, because when I was wanting to tak pictures, using the time delay, the camera wouldn't take any dang pictures, instead it was constanlty going in and out of focus :) lol, but then I thought that it might've been the amount of static from the storm, causing the camera to goof up :) lol

So, since that night, I have specifically told my brother, that he is banned from going near any of the camera equpiment, in case there is something else that he goofs around with :) lol

I hope to be able to experience much more by going to chase in the plains next year, if I'm blessed to have the oppertunity :)

Willie
 
Good day,

Sounds like that strike was a positive hit, since the storm line was still approaching and the lightning hit behind you (by feet). You are VERY lucky.

These large bolts often are anvil to ground and are positive in nature. The anvil is positively charged and the ground under it is negatively charged. Closer to the storm, the ground is positive and the lower clouds are negative. The "typical" CG's are negative bolts from the cloud to ground and are short distances.

The positive bolts, making a far longer path to the high-altitude anvil to ground pack a MUCH more massive amount of both voltage, and most importantly, current. With a normal CG packing 20,000 amps at 100,000,000 volts, a positive CG can pack 10 times that, and even last 10 times longer.

The reason why your chest hurt is simply the result of a violent shock wave created by a region of air 20 feet away about a foot wide suddenly heating up to a temperature at least 5-6 times as hot as the surface of the sun in less than a second! The hot air / plasma expands at supersonic speeds (at a speed far faster than 750 MPH), and air ahead of it cannot move out of the way of the blast front - It's an explosion, no more, no less. The shock wave is generated and has the force to break windows, damage hearing, and even cause "blunt" trauma similar to that of being too close to a blast from dynamite.

The "rushing" sound was obviously the air just begining to ionize around you and the tree prior to the air becoming a plasma, then conducting, and completing a "dead short" between the two massive electric fields. Ozone is the smell of "electricity" and is caused by a by-product of ionization where oxygen O2 in the air combines with itself forming O3. Even nitrogen combines with oxygen to for nitric oxides as well (good for plants).

Had it been night, I am sure you would have notices stuff around you (tips of antennae, trees, power poles, etc) glowing blue - St Elmo's fire is not just the name of a 1980's movie ;-)
 
Bah, Neal's got nothing on Drummond! How many close calls have you had now, David? I was just telling someone the other day about the legendary chaser that everyone stays at least 50 yards from at all times... ;)

And Drummond has nothing on me ;) Not that anyone pays attention to us Illinois chasers... but I'm sure you could get one of "them" to confirm that for you that they'll never leave their vehicle again while chasing with me.

This one started it all back in 2002...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbHpVVXFK0s

Here's another not as close call I uploaded from July, there was a closer one before it that Scott Kampas and I both felt on our skin.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAAOnbe1yIM

Anyway, not to threadjack ;)

Glad you're alright dude, you're lucky you didn't get hit by any bark, or that it wasn't a pine tree. I've heard of those things exploding somewhat with stronger bolts.
 
The force of the strike sent fragments of the tree through the roof of the house next door. Causing an Attic fire.
What material that roof was? Hard to think fragments being able to penetrate metal sheets when it looks like otherwise "toothpicks" haven't flown much anywhere.
Weird part is. Just before the strike I touched something in my car and got a little shock, like you would get from static electricity...
Propably build up of electrical charge caused potential difference between car and you... There would be definitely lot to study in that area but it would be practically impossible, using rocket to shoot copper wire to cloud imitates it badly.
But good to hear that you managed to avoid getting hit worser.


My closest experience must have been about 15 years ago, thunderstorm was mostly over and lightning was very sparse so I was reading book while sitting on sofa 1m/3feet away from window, suddenly I saw somekind flash in left (in direction of window) and there was sharp crack-like sound and then usual rumble. I wasn't hit but I must have nearly jumped on sofa and in next room there had been flame shooting from socket so I'm not sure did lightning hit directly to building (that happened two times during army in one week) or di I saw just spark shooting from socket next to window.

One curious thing in it was that nothing was broken, not even single fuse...
While two years ago hit to 20kV line came through half mile of wires, one transformer and half mile of 400V cabling and blew seven fuses. Also insulator of one phase in 20kV line broke but power company had to search it for two weeks because leakage current didn't ignite pole like usually.


Perhaps the most bizarre part of the whole incident was the fact that for the next couple of hours, whenever I would get within a foot of a light switch or an electrical outlet, a small spark would jump from my finger to the switch or outlet!
Trying to use computer propably wouldn't have been good idea...

I know I should have gone to the ER, but I'm a true country boy in the fact that I like to avoid medical treatment unless absolutely necessary.
Yeah, no worries as long as you're able to move around.
Who cares if couple toes are broken, there's more important things to do than going to see doctor on next day, like limping around packing tent and things in haste between showers, walking mile or two and driving 300 miles... Needless to say toes hurt little still four months later when stressed and it took half years to get full movability back. (+ I suggest waiting healing of toes before hitting them to leg of chair)
 
Wow - great account and nice shots of the tree. Thankfully you weren't hurt!

More than likely the house was hit directly by another lightning channel 'split' rather than a fragment from the tree. It is quite common for some return strokes of a single cloud-to-ground lightning discharge to hit two or more different spots (some examples here).

As for the small sparks, the human body doesn't hold any residual charge as a result of a lightning strike. The human body can store 20,000 to 30,000 volts of potential, but a spark would immediately discharge that potential. For there to be additional sparks means there would need to be an external source of charging, like the rubbing of feet on carpet or linoleum. The small sparks afterward would have been coincidental and not caused by the strike itself.

What an experience though. I'd love to get something like that on camera from that distance!
 
Wow - great account and nice shots of the tree. Thankfully you weren't hurt!

More than likely the house was hit directly by another lightning channel 'split' rather than a fragment from the tree. It is quite common for some return strokes of a single cloud-to-ground lightning discharge to hit two or more different spots (some examples here).

I want to say you are right. Although I didn't see it, it would make more sense. There were branches on the house and firefighters came and moved them off. I dont know if you all can see it but just to the right of where the 2nd story starts is where the initial hole and fire was coming out of. Then spread to the 2nd story.

It very well could have been another lightning stroke, but by that time I was picking myself off the floor of the car and changing my pants. :p
 
More than likely the house was hit directly by another lightning channel 'split' rather than a fragment from the tree. It is quite common for some return strokes of a single cloud-to-ground lightning discharge to hit two or more different spots
I could nearly swear that during one nightly frontal thunderstorm in last August there was few lightnings with four or five strokes because those felt like looking some stroboscope. And there was definitely whole lot of lightnings with two or three strokes.
So considering that I would keep such as strong possibility.


There's actually one really interesting case of this kind multiple strokes. Stromchaser saw only one lightning but when he had found place where it hit he found that there was signs of stroke in two trees 20m/60feet apart and both trees had signs of two separate lightning channels:
tree 1, tree 2
 
Glad to hear your ok. From the looks of it, it was one hell of a bolt that struck that tree. Thankfully it didnt hit the tree to where the tree lost stability and then crashed down.

I had a pretty scary run-in with lightning back in 1998, I was in Rancho Cucamonga, Ca helping move a Jackuzzi to a backyard. We were just about hlafway thru the yard when the hairs on our airms started to raise and you could hear static cracks in the air, We did notice the convection and had just enough time to lower the jackuzzi and get under the roof and as soon as we did we heard the crack of thunder. Pretty much everytime after that I havent experienced the static, but the immediate explosion of lightning still gets me to this day.

Glad your okay dude.

-gerrit
 
I had my first close encounter way before my chase days began. My kid had spent the night at his cousin's and it was storming a bit when I picked him up. I was getting into the car (which was parked under a telephone pole) when the hair on my neck began to prickle up. I dove in the car closing the door when there was a tremendous crack of thunder. Yep, lightning hit the telephone pole...a good 20-30 minutes after the storm had passed. No ill effects, and my kid's comment was "wow...that was cool...you ok, mom?"
Best close encounter to date was in KS...June 4, 2005. Shane, Chad and Mickey were in the lead car, and Jo and I were following. We were driving down a Bob's road when there was an incredible explosion right outside the car. I could feel heat coming through the window, my hands and arms were tingling (I was driving) and Jo said it felt like her ears were going to explode. The bolt was close enough that we really didn't see it until we got home and watched the vid. Very cool :D !!!
 
I was facing the opposite direction. shooting an oncoming line of storms. I was standing with my foot in the car, camera in my right hand and hand on the roof of the car.

Interesting...I remember that day very well. That same family of storms initially became supercellular over central Illinois near Henry. I intercepted the storm near my hometown of Streator and tracked it northeast. The family produced two independent supercells, and I'm guessing you about got zapped by the storm that moved south and paralleled IL Route 17. That storm produced some nasty hail near Manville and Blackstone before hitting the Dwight area.

The second cell moved more NE through Ransom and into southern Grundy County. That was an interesting day, as I believe the SPC only had the area in a slight risk. The route 17 corridor was active for a few summers, but not sure how it's been since I moved down here to "forgottonia" land.:D
 
Interesting...I remember that day very well. That same family of storms initially became supercellular over central Illinois near Henry. I intercepted the storm near my hometown of Streator and tracked it northeast. The family produced two independent supercells, and I'm guessing you about got zapped by the storm that moved south and paralleled IL Route 17. That storm produced some nasty hail near Manville and Blackstone before hitting the Dwight area.

The second cell moved more NE through Ransom and into southern Grundy County. That was an interesting day, as I believe the SPC only had the area in a slight risk. The route 17 corridor was active for a few summers, but not sure how it's been since I moved down here to "forgottonia" land.:D

Dead on man! Good call. Thats what happened, pretty powerful, alot of wind damage I saw on the second storm. Best Areas for chasing in northern/central IL are between the Route 24 and Route 17 corridors. Alot of interesting things tend to happen there. 03 especially I think almost chased everyday in June.
 
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