Category Archives: Lightning

Impressive lightning display

I’ve heard from a number of friends who talked about being awakened by the strong thunderstorm that rolled through Wichita early Thursday morning. The storm brought heavy rain and scores of lightning strikes. Lightning was blamed for two house fires a block apart on South Seneca and an oil storage tank fire near 127th Street East.

This AccuWeather dropcam video captured some of the storm’s power.

Storm chaser survives being hit by lightning

Severe weather nearly claimed another storm chaser earlier this month, but remarkably he escaped serious injury despite being hit by lightning.

A poignant reminder of lightning’s danger

This collection of images taken by a photojournalist on assignment captures a woman being killed by a lightning strike in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Information indicates there had been numerous warnings urging people to stay away from the water.

She ignored those warnings – and paid for it with her life.

Take lightning warnings seriously. The consequences can be deadly.

Dear Sports Illustrated: it’s “lightning rod”

I’m amazed at how many folks don’t know how to spell the word “lightning.”

I’m talking about the term for the electrical charge generated in thunderstorms. More and more folks, it seems, add an “e” in the middle of the word as if they were describing a color change.

Even major publications are falling victim to the blunder. To wit, Sports Illustrated:

AC Milan and Italy national team star forward Mario Balotelli is a friend of popes, a lover of pigs and a symbol of an increasingly multiracial Europe. But the lightening rod for attention also has the talent that’s every bit as electric as his personality, says senior writer Grant Wahl in this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.

Noted storm chaser and weather researcher Tim Samaras killed by El Reno tornado

Veteran storm chaser and weather researcher Tim Samaras, his son Paul and his longtime chase partner Carl Young were all killed in the El Reno tornado Friday night in Oklahoma. A total of nine people died in tornadoes that raked the Oklahoma City metropolitan area that night.

Samaras, 55, was among the most respected voices in the storm chasing community, and he was doing some of the most important research on violent weather.

He founded TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment) to pursue tornadoes and advance the research and warning available to the public.

And he was researching lightning with the fastest, highest-resolution camera in the world – work that promised to change our understanding of the physics of lightning. It was research that had the potential to save countless lives.

Tim Samaras and Carl Young were among those featured in the former Discovery Channel series “Storm Chasers.”

Lightning strikes the Vatican hours after Pope Benedict resigns

In case you missed it, here’s video of a lightning bolt striking the Vatican hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced he was resigning – the first pope to step down in 600 years.

Wags may pronounce it a divine response to the pope’s decision. Others may consider it appropriate, since the Catholic Church has been a lightning rod on many issues.

Storm spotter training schedule set for Wichita area

Yes, the snow flurries and temperatures and wind chills remind us that winter is still in full force these days, but spring isn’t that far off.

One reminder of that is the arrival of the schedule for storm spotter training classes in the Wichita area. The National Weather Service has posted its schedule of storm spotter classes on its website.

The first class is Feb. 11 in Sedan and the last is April 11 in Wichita. That final session, along with meetings on April 3 in Salina and April 9 in Parsons, are advanced sessions. Those wishing to go to those talks are encouraged to attend one of the basic talks earlier in the spring.

The “basic” talk for Wichita will be held March 5 at Northwest High School.

The basic talks cover thunderstorm development, storm structure, the features to look for and where to find them. The audience is also taught how, what and when to report information.

Basic severe weather safety is covered in the presentation as well.

All classes are free and open to the public.

Storms brought plenty of lightning

Bill and Pat Naylor had just settled back into bed after calming down their nervous dog when it happened.

“There was a big boom, and then it went boom again,” Pat said.

The Naylors figure the first boom was a lightning bolt striking the large cypress in their yard in northwest Wichita early Wednesday morning, and the second was the large branches hitting the ground.

“It blew both sides out of it,” Naylor said.

Valley Center storm chaser Brandon Ivey shot photos of the frequent lightning, which knocked power out at his house for a while overnight.

“I saw three separate bolts produce power flashes due to blown transformers,” Ivey said.

Westar Energy reported more than 4,000 customers were without electricity at one point during the storm.

The Naylors hope they can save their cypress, which is perhaps 30 years old. An arborist was scheduled to check the tree Wednesday afternoon.

The rain gauge at the Naylor house northwest of 13th and Tyler recorded more than 5 inches of rain, though Pat admits some of that may have been “splash” off the roof and not an accurate measure of the rainfall. But National Weather Service officials say it’s likely that more than 4 inches fell in isolated spots in the city, and reports of 3 inches were widespread.

Miss Ohio’s cause? Lightning safety, not world peace

When Ellen Bryan tells people that her adopted platform as Miss Ohio is lightning safety, they usually think it’s a joke – and then wait for her real answer.

But lightning safety is no laughing matter to Ellen, whose older sister Christina was struck and crippled by lightning on June 13, 2000. Christina, who had just finished her junior year in high school, was picking up golf bag stands on the driving range at the golf course where she worked when she was struck by lightning after a thunderstorm had seemingly ended. Her injuries from the lightning strike were so severe she is unable to walk or speak.

Photo by Valerie Carnevale

“Even without her being able to talk, you can know what she’s thinking just by looking at her eyes,” Ellen said.

Christina went on her first flight since she was injured to watch her sister compete in the Miss America pageant last month. Though Ellen didn’t win, she reveled in the experience.

“I just have been enjoying every experience” as Miss Ohio, she said.

She began competing in pageants as a student at Ball State because a professor told her it would be a good way to learn skills valuable in her intended career as a broadcast journalist.

“It’s helped me grow a lot,” she said.

Now that she’s back home, she’s back to her duties as Miss Ohio – which include promoting lightning safety and awareness.

She preaches the slogan “When lightning roars, go indoors” to anyone who will listen. If you can hear thunder, you’re within range of a lightning strike, weather officials say. It’s not safe to go back outside until a half-hour after you last hear thunder.

Ellen admits her own family didn’t take lightning very seriously until Christina was hit.

“You want to take it seriously, but you never imagine that someone you know will be struck,” she said.

Ellen has talked to more than 3,000 students, more than 100 businesses and countless civic organizations. A public service announcement on lightning safety created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration features Ellen and Christina.

It can really grate on her when she’s on a college campus and storms are threatening and students are strolling along as if nothing is going on. A thunderstorm rolled through one day when she was at Harry Potter World in Florida.

“Nobody moved,” she said. “Everybody just stayed outside. I kept running into buildings.

“It was very frustrating,” she added. “Even the parks department didn’t come on and say ‘We have a storm.’”

But word seems to be getting through somehow: Lightning deaths have plummeted to record lows in recent years.

Even though she calls the decrease “exciting,” Ellen vows to remain vigilant with her message.

“When I see people that are still out in thunderstorms, you just know your work’s not done,” she said. “You have more to do.

“There’s never going to be a cure for lightning. We’re not going to be able to stop it from coming down.”

She’ll continue to urge lightning safety and awareness once she relinquishes her crown. A 2011 graduate of Ball State, Ellen hopes to land a job as a television broadcaster soon after her Miss Ohio reign ends. One day, she said, she’d love to be an anchor on The Today Show.

No matter where her career takes her, she said, “I’ll always be drawing back on the pageant experience.”

Something else won’t change, either.

“I’ll always be talking about Christina’s story,” she said.

Her sister, she said, embodies the message “Never give up. You can take whatever life throws at you.”

Ellen set up the Lightning Safety Awareness Fund through the Mercer County Civic Foundation in Celina, Ohio. Checks should be written to the Mercer County Civic Foundation, with the memo line saying Lightning Safety and Awareness Fund.

The Mercer County Civic Foundation
119 West Fulton P.O. Box 439
Celina, Ohio 45822

More storm spotter training sessions in Sedgwick County

Sedgwick County Emergency Management has finalized its storm spotter training class schedule for this spring. These sessions are in addition to the classes offered by the National Weather Service.

The emergency management presenters use the same course developed by the weather service. Their classes are simply more opportunities for residents who can’t make it to one of the weather service sessions.