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marshall
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09 May 2008, 9:16 pm

After reading the thunderstorm thread I thought I’d start another to share thunderstorm stories. It’s a bit of an obsession of mine.

I’d like to hear some stories that top mine. I’ve never personally experienced anything too severe. I’ve been within a few miles of a tornado but I never actually saw it or even knew that it was occurring. The following story is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed.

WARNING! Please don’t read the following if you are in any way afraid of lightning! Even if you enjoy storms this is extremely freaky. Be mindful that you might not be able to sleep through another thunderstorm after you read this.

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Anyways, this took place at my parents’ summer cottage on a lake. I don’t remember if it was 1995 or 1996, but I know it was the day before Independence Day, July 3rd. There were thunderstorms practically all day long, one after another. However, it was the last storm, late in the afternoon that was the most intense.

During the peak of it there was a continual barrage of lightning strikes all happening nearly overhead and within seconds of each other. Also, the rain was so torrential that you couldn’t see more than a hundred feet and the front yard temporarily turned into a giant mud puddle. Towards the end of the downpour there was one particularly bright flash and simultaneous thunder clap. It sounded like someone just popped a balloon right inside my ear drum. Everyone’s ears were ringing afterwards. About 15 minutes later a fire engine showed up on the street in front of the next door neighbors’ house.

When the fire truck left and the storm was over the neighbors invited us into their house. They showed us a tree in the side yard that had been smoldering earlier. Luckily the rain put out the fire before the fire trucks even arrived. However, the really freaky part was what happened inside the house.

In one of the upstairs bedrooms there was a picture hanging above the bed. They took the picture down off the wall and showed that there was no glass left on it. The lightning strike had exploded the glass from the picture frame into little shards. These tiny shards were scattered all across the room. The spot on the wall underneath the picture had this scorch mark about a cm in diameter surrounding the hook. Somehow the lightning traveled through the wall, into the hook, and exploded the picture frame. Oddly the print itself wasn’t burned or damaged at all. It was an old family portrait.

It just amazed me that lightning could come directly into a house and do something like that. I don’t know what would have happened had someone been on the bed. The pieces of glass put holes right through the quilt on the bed. There were also pieces of glass stuck in the wall on the opposite side of the room from the picture.



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09 May 2008, 9:28 pm

Whoa! Cool!

I worked at a summer camp as a windsurf instructor. During lunch, there was a thunderstorm, and then the sky went black. Uh oh, tornado. Well, as the windsurf instructor, my first thought was, "Oh shoot, the boards aren't tied up!" I went down to the lake, and got most of them up, but couldn't move the inflatable ones (for beginners) by myself. I went back up and got the other instructor. As we were walking down the stone steps to the lake, lightning hit a tree behind us. The tree fell, falling in the step right behind us. So scary!


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Lightning88
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09 May 2008, 10:08 pm

This would have to be one of my worst thunderstorms.

Two years ago, it was a Friday evening in the heart of spring. Our puppy (at the time), Winston, had his graduation from training class that night at Pet's Mart. We knew there was bad weather heading to the area, but since it's Indiana, we didn't really think much of it. So we took Winston and my mom's car to Pet's Mart.

While we were there, we started getting some very severe weather. My mom and I heard what sounded like a train from the middle of the store. And sure enough, the front doors blew open and big chunks of hail started pouring in pretty deep into the store. And since everything was blowing in so hard, the doors wouldn't close. The employees had all of us customers (which there was a lot of) and all of our pets head into the tornado shelter, the bathrooms, and the back of the grooming salon until things started to calm down.

About ten minutes later, we were all released. My mom took the dog and had me go out into the parking lot to check for damage on the car. I looked and sure enough, there were tons of hail dents. One was about the size of a baseball near the back window. The Taurus next to my mom's car got it really bad. The whole front window was smashed!

After a bit, we started heading back home. We went to a nearby neighborhood and saw there was tons of damage there. Everyone was out in their yards observing it as well and collecting large pieces of hail. Since we only lived a few miles away at the time, we decided to go and see our neighborhood for ourselves. (FYI, we were actually the worst-hit part in the state at Pet's Mart.) When we got back to our neighborhood, we saw it had been pretty damaged, too. And our house was on the market at the time, so that storm hadn't helped at all. However, our neighbor's houses were fortunately able to block some of the damage to our house. It still had damage on it, but nothing we didn't get quickly fixed.

Even to this day, two years later, you can still see some of the damage on the houses and people's cars from that storm. That was the spring we were getting tornadoes pretty much every Friday and Sunday. But that hail storm was the worst of them all.



Warsie
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09 May 2008, 11:13 pm

"It just amazed me that lightning could come directly into a house and do something like that."

Another reason to GET LIGHTNING RODS and NOT TO TAKE BATHS/SHOWERS DURING THESE ACTIVITIES OF THE ATMOSPHERE. And to use cordless phones/uplug stuff/etc.

Also, at least the sky/clouds were not green...that means hail and/or tornadoes (green sky is from the light reflecting off the hail still in th clouds)


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SabbraCadabra
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09 May 2008, 11:21 pm

On the way to my aunt's property one time to go camping, we get there just in time to find that a pine tree got hit by lightning right next to my uncle's RV. The bark had flown all over, and his TV inside had blown up. I think something else got damaged too, don't remember.

And that's with rubber tires grounding the whole thing o_O

That glass sounds really freaky though...good thing nobody was in the room when it happened.



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09 May 2008, 11:26 pm

The only bad experience I can ever remember that involved lightning is when it struck this huge pine tree and smashed onto our neighbors' master bedroom when I was four. This was back in Houston. I think they stayed with their parents during the repairs. But if that tree had fallen the other way, it would've hit our house!



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09 May 2008, 11:40 pm

Other than the lightning hitting my house story as mentioned in the previous Thunderstorms thread, I remember once when I was on a family vacation to Disneyworld. All day there were severe thunderstorm watches and warnings, yet we went to Typhoon Lagoon anyway (huge open waterpark- VERY cool).

As we were leaving, storm clouds came rapidly in on a very violent and windy front- the front coming towards us was severely "bowed" or curved- this indicates a lot of wind activity, and depends on where you're at, rotation. We scurried onto the bus, and no sooner had we sat down than one of the buses directly across the parking lot got struck by lightning. We were sitting next to those huge panel windows, and we had a very clear view. Scared the s**t out of me, oh my gosh...

I used to lifeguard for this one local golf course and swimming pool in high school; one of my swimming coach's parents owned it. We'd have these little portable lightning trackers on each guard, and we could tell fairly accurately how close the lightning was striking. One particularly strong summer storm forced us and all of the patrons into the building with the small snack shop and eating area, and watched the pool out of the large front windows.

We hear a crack, and see a HUGE blaze of white hit the lifeguard stand and the pool simultaneously, and the paint actually flies and burns off the metal guard stand, and the pool turns a bright blue color, which fades away to a bubbly almost milk-like water. They had to drain the whole pool because the lightning reacted with some of the pool chemicals because they were in excess amounts. Sooo weird. No wonder why I'm absoltely terrified while simultaneously fascinated by lightning...


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marshall
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10 May 2008, 12:02 am

Warsie wrote:
"It just amazed me that lightning could come directly into a house and do something like that."

Another reason to GET LIGHTNING RODS and NOT TO TAKE BATHS/SHOWERS DURING THESE ACTIVITIES OF THE ATMOSPHERE. And to use cordless phones/uplug stuff/etc.


Good advice on the bath/shower and not using the phone but a lightning rod on the house wouldn't have done jack in this case IMO. The house was in the middle of the woods and it was a large tree that initially got struck. The bolt that hit the house went in from the side rather than the roof.

I think this was a multi-stroke bolt. I distinctly remember more than one flashes occurring within about a second. I’m guessing the 70 ft pine tree about 30 feet from the house is what got struck first. That tree briefly caught on fire which is why the fire truck showed up. The bolt that entered the house was a separate “repeater stroke”. You could see exactly where it hit the house because some of the siding was slightly scorched where it connected. It didn’t even go for the peak of the roof like you would expect.



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10 May 2008, 1:12 am

My grandfather was on the telephone during an electrical storm in the 1900's and the lightening hit the telephone pole came right down the line and hit my grandfather in the ear.
He was deaf from that moment on in his right ear.

Merle


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spudnik
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10 May 2008, 1:31 am

I seem to attract lighting, I was almost hit bey lighting in 1987 when my city was hit by a tornado,
I had walked out to my truck at work and had a bolt hit a street light by my truck, I even felt the
static electricity all over me, that was on Black Friday in Edmonton. Since getting metal pins in my
shoulder, I seem to be able to feel a bad storm coming, in 1994 I told my girlfriend to sit by the
window during a bad lighting storm, because I was feeling very energized, not 10 seconds after
she came to watch by me a huge bolt struck right in front of the building, the blast was incredible.
Last year we had a very bad lighting storm here in Calgary, that caused lot of damage, there were
hundreds of lighting strikes within a few minutes, it was just like in that War of the Worlds movie
a few years back, it was actually quite unnerving, because the lighting was hitting very close to the
house, several people were injured by the storm, streets were flooded and sewer piped were blown
out by the amount of rain that inundated the city. This year I have a video camera, and plan on doing
some storm chasing, want to post some video to You Tube, I don't want to take any stupid chances like
I did in 2004, I was watching the weather channel, and saw the radar west of Calgary, which showed
rotation, great I need to take some pictures, so I jumped into the car and headed west, well I got a
picture of some small cold funnels, I then decided to head south and was right underneath the supercell,
not a good idea, I got out of the car to take a panorama with the camera, when I looked up, there was a
very real funnel forming, the sky was pitch black, and lighting was comming down everywhere, it was also
to rainy to use the camera, so I jumped back into the car and go out of there as fast as I could. The storm
didn't spawn any tornadoes, which was great for Calgary, but the city was nailed very hard by massive
amounts of hail, that flooded alot of the SW of the city, I have promised myself and others that I wouldn't
go storm chasing again, but how can I not when I have a video cam.



marshall
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10 May 2008, 2:03 am

sinsboldly wrote:
My grandfather was on the telephone during an electrical storm in the 1900's and the lightening hit the telephone pole came right down the line and hit my grandfather in the ear.
He was deaf from that moment on in his right ear.

Merle


My grandmother claimed to have seen a ball of lightning roll down the hall. She was about 6 years old at the time living with her parents in New Jersey. She says her parents missed it and didn't believe her.



spudnik
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10 May 2008, 2:16 am

The east cost is full of stories of Ball Lighting, it is a common occurrence in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, the same with St Elmo's Fire



sinsboldly
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10 May 2008, 2:52 am

marshall wrote:
sinsboldly wrote:
My grandfather was on the telephone during an electrical storm in the 1900's and the lightening hit the telephone pole came right down the line and hit my grandfather in the ear.
He was deaf from that moment on in his right ear.

Merle


My grandmother claimed to have seen a ball of lightning roll down the hall. She was about 6 years old at the time living with her parents in New Jersey. She says her parents missed it and didn't believe her.


I have seen ball lightening rolling on the high power lines across the Kansas Great Plains. they followed the dip of the wires for a mile or so. We were on vacation and my parents woke my brother and me up in the back seat to see it.

St Elmo's fire was during a storm in the high Rocky Mountains where the top parts of the old gold mining equipment and rigging glowed green/blue right while the lightening struck around on the high metal content of the mountain peaks.

Merle



marshall
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10 May 2008, 2:55 am

spudnik wrote:
Last year we had a very bad lighting storm here in Calgary, that caused lot of damage, there were hundreds of lighting strikes within a few minutes, it was just like in that War of the Worlds movie a few years back, it was actually quite unnerving, because the lighting was hitting very close to the house, several people were injured by the storm, streets were flooded and sewer piped were blown out by the amount of rain that inundated the city.


That one that exploded the picture on the wall was like that as well. The thunderclaps were all within 1-5 seconds of the lightning and they were occurring at a frequency of about one thunderclap every 5 seconds. You just knew that sooner or later one was going to hit right on top of you.

Quote:
This year I have a video camera, and plan on doing
some storm chasing, want to post some video to You Tube, I don't want to take any stupid chances like I did in 2004, I was watching the weather channel, and saw the radar west of Calgary, which showed rotation, great I need to take some pictures, so I jumped into the car and headed west, well I got a picture of some small cold funnels, I then decided to head south and was right underneath the supercell, not a good idea, I got out of the car to take a panorama with the camera, when I looked up, there was a
very real funnel forming, the sky was pitch black, and lighting was comming down everywhere, it was also to rainy to use the camera, so I jumped back into the car and go out of there as fast as I could. The storm didn't spawn any tornadoes, which was great for Calgary, but the city was nailed very hard by massive amounts of hail, that flooded alot of the SW of the city, I have promised myself and others that I wouldn't go storm chasing again, but how can I not when I have a video cam.


I’m jealous. I grew up in SW Michigan. We had some good lightning shows, but supercells were very rare.

There was a supercell about 15 miles north of my parent’s house in June 2004. It produced 3” diameter hail stones and a weak tornado. Unfortunately it was moving way too fast for me to get anywhere near it. By the time I noticed it on radar it was already racing away to the northeast. It was also an incredibly hazy humid day so I doubt the storm structure would have been easy to see. I was interning at the National Weather Service office at the time so I got to go on a storm damage survey with them the next day. We drove up to the location where the hail occurred. The hail swath was very small and localized but there was this one RV park that had extensive damage. All the campers were dinged up and there were leaves all over from the hail stripping the trees. We spend a lot of time looking for tornado damage but we couldn’t find any. A local resident had video footage of the tornado but it was in an inaccessible area.

Alberta isn’t too far from Washington. I would drive all the way over there to see some supercell action sometime.



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10 May 2008, 11:12 am

Calgary is at a spot near the mountains that gets alot of convection super cells form 20 to 40 mile west of the city, so it seems to get wildly variable weather, no tornadoes but bad hail and lighting storms, also very bad wind storms, there has been some micro bursts which are quite damaging. I have been though 2 tornadoes in Edmonton which is 200 miles north of Calgary, one in 1987 and the other in 1989, some of the storms in Edmonton are deadly. The hail storms are epic, if you have heard of West Edmonton Mall, it was flooded out in 2004 the day after my close call while storm chasing, it was a very busy month for bad weather in Alberta. I got to track down some pictures of the storm, mine and a few friends had taken.



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10 May 2008, 11:35 am

I have 2 stories. First was when I was about 9. I was at home with a “good storm” going on and the big maple tree in the front yard took a “hit”. There was zero delay between the flash and the “boom”. It was so bright that everything in the house went “white”. It was a neat experience and an image I still remember today. When we went to check the tree was still standing but “smoking”.

The second is from the days when we used to ride the back step of the fire trucks. We would go out on a call at night in the middle of a sever storm with the rain, wind and lighting snapping all around. What and adrenalin rush with that and making a high-speed emergency response at the same time.

I guess they did not qualify as scary to me but they sure were fun.

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