Wow, am I ever sick of exciting weather.
I had settled down a little before 8 tonight to write an entirely different post, and the most intense electrical storm I can recall commenced. Lightning strikes occurred at least once per second, and both the intensity of the flashes and the volume of the thunder indicated our neighborhood was pretty much ground zero.
We lost power, and the only surprise was that it didn’t happen sooner. When it was clear we wouldn’t get it right back, I quieted the shrieks of the uninterruptible power supplies, shut down my desktop computer, and passed out Mag-Lites.
So Lea and the boys were visiting in our bedroom, and I was sitting in the living room by myself, when lightning struck our house. I heard it. I felt it. Weirdest of all, I saw it—in my house. Ten feet from where I sit right now, there was a brilliant, momentary flash inside the foyer. It was pillar-shaped, about two feet tall, and about three feet off the floor.
And folks, I am absolutely positive it was on this side of the front door. Ball lightning? Couldn’t tell you. I suppose I’ll go with that explanation. It left no trace of itself, which surprised me. I expected to see a char mark or something. It was definitely one of the stranger things I’ve seen recently.
The power was still out, so it wasn’t like I could investigate whether we’d lost any appliances or electronics in the strike. So I sat back down and played a little DS, and in another little while I saw flashing red lights through the front door windows. It was a rescue worker of some sort. He climbed out of his F-250 and started raising hell at my across-the-street neighbor (who I only then noticed standing on his front porch; tough to see because it was still raining pretty hard), barking stuff I couldn’t decipher. I thought it must be a medical call. I called Lea to see.
And during a flash of lightning, she noticed the smoke rising off the south side of their roof.
I fetched the scanner, inactivating all of the banks except the one for our county. A pumper arrived; then another; then another half-dozen fire and rescue vehicles of various sorts. And over the course of the next hour, we watched and listened to their house burn up as a result of a lightning strike.
Lea took some photos and video, neither of which I’m going to share because I can’t write a non-offensive narrative in which I’d do that. To give you an idea, though, it’s a good 60 yards from our house to theirs; we were watching through closed doors and windows; and it was still effortlessly easy to feel a good bit of heat on your face. At their worst, the flames were 30 feet in the air above their roofline.
It doesn’t look to me as if they’re going to be able to save much. Further, though everyone got out, one resident still went to the hospital with serious symptoms. Please remember our neighbors in your prayers. They are fine people whose whole plan was a tranquil retirement spent growing vegetables and enjoying their grandchildren.
I don’t know how you could say anyone deserves what happened tonight, but if there are degrees of such, it just seems extra-wrong for it to happen to them. God be with them.