Of Bright & Boom

I can’t recall when might the last time someone in Southern California was struck and killed by lightning, but in the midst of yesterday’s freak strom, just such a freak tragedy happened to a 40-year-old woman who was reportedly just walking along a residential street. Next thing she’s dead, “with most of her clothes blown off her body,” an official said.

It’s almost an unfathomable a thing to have happen here, even moreso in June.

For a little bit I also couldn’t recall what turned out to be my closest encounter with lightning. Sure there was that turbulent stormcell that squatted over Silver Lake in 2004 that put on a spectacular show of bright and boom for the neighborhood (and that I watched from the frontporch like a brainless person), but the title of Closest & Most Spectacular Encounter has to go to the thunderhead that parked itself over Arches National Park in Utah on the day we were there in July 2006 (the latest stop on our 4,500 mile road trip that summer), and later resulted in rare flash flooding that closed down the park and left all visitors corraled by the park’s rangers on high ground until the roads had been cleared of debris and we were given the OK to leave.

Before the rain started to come down and it got to that point, there was soooo much lightning concentrated in a relatively small area off to our left that we stopped to check it out. And instead of blindly hoping my video cam just luckily happened to be pointed in the right direction, I practically couldn’t miss the strikes, such as this  magnificent one seen below. The two frames may look like separate strikes but it’s just different parts of one because I was displaying my mastery of the unsteady cam when it hit (and it was taken from inside the vehicle, just in case you think I’m a total idiot):


It was hard to guage their distance because they’re gone like, well… lightning. But if I had to guess I’d say they touched down 200 – 300 yards away.

Closest I ever hope the stuff ever gets to me.