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.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."