Roger's SkyPix

Night Lightning

Prelude to Danger

Prelude to Danger

On this evening, Gene Rhoden and I were part of a NSSL storm intercept team which had been observing a highly electrified supercell thunderstorm for several hours. After numerous close strikes before dark in Crowell TX, we retreated what we believed to be a safe distance to its NE; and Gene and I shot several rolls of film apiece of lightning pictures such as this one from the main precipitation core to the SW. We were under the anvil -- where we knew that isolated intense lightning flashes can occur, when we felt light rain beginning and immediately began to put away our equipment. Gene felt a shock on the back door of the van and saw a blue-green glow (corona discharge) around the top, with the antennae throwing sparks! At the same time, about 100 feet away, I began to feel a strange, intense, pressurized sensation around my head. My hair stood on end, and I immediately crouched into a low ball with only the bottom of my feet touching ground. The barbed wire fence across the dark dirt road sizzled with sparks; and I thought I was going to die any second. Fortunately, the charge dispersed some, and the crew drove up so I could quickly jump in the van. We got out of there fast. About 2 minutes later and 2 miles down the main road, we saw a brilliant flash from the anvil very close to where we had been. This was a disturbingly close call -- and a valuable lesson in lightning safety. I was granted a second chance at staying alive. If you take the same risk, you may not be! Remember -- you'll never see, hear or feel the strike which kills you.

3 SW Lockett TX (23 Apr 89) Looking SW