August 11, 2009

A Thunderstorm.

I am not sure how I feel about thunderstorms. They both frighten and fascinate me. Yesterday morning, I awoke to the sound of a thunder in the distance. Thunderstorms are not uncommon in Denmark, but severe ones are.
This one turned out to be severe.

As I was having my breakfast some thirty minutes later, heavy, tropical rain was already pounding at my window panes. It looked like someone was poring water straight down from the skies. I immediately noticed that my cat started to behave strangely. He seemed very upset and anxious, crouching in the corner, his eyes large and dark as the night. I talked to him with laughter as he has experienced multitude of thunderstorms previously and has never acted this way when they were approaching. I guess I was becoming a bit nervous myself at this point, as the air grew suddenly very still; despite the fact that the rain has receded, menacing, low clouds were just overhead.

The thunder was by then really close and I could feel the storm was about to pass over my house. As I was finishing that thought, I was almost blinded by a strange electrical light and within a fraction of a second almost deafened by the incredible roar that followed, while the whole house shook. At this point, Batcat had already found shelter under my bed.

I am not sure if I received a direct hit, or if it was the neighbours recently renovated house and the brand new flag pole that was the target. All I know is that it scared the living daylights out of me. I learned later in the day that this was one of the worst thunderstorms on record in Denmark and it gave rise to destructive tornadoes further up north, something unheard of in this part of the world.

I feel that any powerful phenomenon in nature is fascinating, particularly when it can be watched safely. Thunderstorms are definitely natural light shows that fall under this category.
Already as a child, we were told that they were very dangerous and stories about "Balls Of Lightning" were circulated in our family, claiming to have been experienced directly by my aunt and cousin in their cottage in the Czech countryside. The lightning ball rolled down over the roof of the cottage; a scary encounter during a hot summer night about thirty years ago. Apparently in some of the neighbouring houses it even entered the house and flew across the room injuring its occupants.
I became severely afraid of thunderstorm when living in North Carolina and made sure I was never ever caught in one while outside.

The scientist in me is always interested in cold facts and therefore I can not help but quote the first few sentences about lightning, as listed by wikipedia:

"Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms. In the atmospheric electrical discharge, a leader of a bolt of lightning can travel at speeds of 60,000 m/s (130,000 mph), and can reach temperatures approaching 30,000 °C (54,000 °F), hot enough to fuse silica sand into glass channels known as fulgurites which are normally hollow and can extend some distance into the ground. There are some 16 million lightning storms in the world every year."

Interestingly this means, that in the immediate vicinity of a lightning bolt, the temperatures are about 3x higher than the surface of the sun. I find it utterly fascinating, that such high temperatures can be created, even for a fraction of a second, here on Earth. Likewise, the fact that to this day it is not completely clear to scientists how lightning forms amuses me.
And I guess we all know that the safest place to be in a thunderstorm is inside a car, thanks to Mr. Faraday and his cage.

In recent years, more serious injuries and fatalities than ever before are reported as a result of lightning even as far up north as Scandinavia. Hoverer spectacular these natural events might be, I guess eventually one should at all times express a deep respect for nature and never underestimate its hidden fury.



Tom said...

What a great read, thank you! It reminds me that I really have to post my own thunderstorm experience one day. I used to love lightning displays but now I get a real sense of fear when a storm is close. I still love watching lightning from a distance but if the storm comes close I feel like joining the cats under the bed!


Maria said...

OMG, that sounds really scare. When the cat starts to hide you know you are in trouble! Well, I hope that this is the last serious thunderstorm you experience for a long time. A lot of freaky storms are happening in the present times - remember the Asian tsunami a few years back?

Gal Friday said...

You described the approaching storm(that stillness)and then the awesome storm and rain iself, so well!
We are about to have some kind of thunderstorm here(it is very dark for this time of the morning)--I hope it doesn't center over our house as it did with you!
Like you, I both am frightened(mildly) yet excited and fascinated by thunder and lightening storms.

Anonymous said...

*OMG* soundz scary, but i iwsh i was there..The last thunderstorm of my life! (I think I'm dying of swine flu, just thaugt I'd visit your blog for the last time...) going in for a checkup, I hope it dosen't turn out to be swine flu... If positive this is the last comment on your blog *wiping tears* $ lol if itz negetive....

Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

A beautiful post! I love thunder and lightening storms, it is one of the best things about living in Florida in the summer. I thought I'd always loved them, but my aunt was just telling me that when I was little I would go around with eyes like saucers, repeating to myself "thunder won't hurt you" over and over. Of course as we know, it's the lightening to watch out for!

Claus said...

I have ALWAYS been fascinated by lightings. To this day, it's probably the one thing I look forward in the rainy season, which is when we can experience them. I can stare at the distant mountains, where most of it occurs, a perfect scenario for them, for hours. I wonder how my views would be if I was to experience a situation like you did? Would I be scared, or even more attracted to them? Depends on the outcome I suppose.
Thanks for sharing your natural/lightining encouter!

Shelly's Style Shop said...

Great post! I always enjoying reading your post. ;-) I love thunderstorms. Of course, they can be very scary too! When I lived in TX they were much scarier because we would always have tornado warnings.

I remember during one storm that the neighbor's (3 houses down from us) trampoline was in our backyard. My kids cried during the whole storm while in the bathroom for shelter. Now that I live in NM we don't experience those kind of storms anymore. Now, we get DUST STORMS.

xoxo, Shelly

Blogaire said...

I have to admit I have a phobia about thunder and lightning! When I was in my late teens I decided to climb Ireland's highest mountain - Corrán Tuathail (Carrauntoohil) in County Kerry. It reaches 1,038 metres, I was on my own and I was about 300 metres from the top when the rumbling of thunder started in the nearby hills. Dilemma - will I keep heading for the top or get back down the mountain as quickly as possible? I decided to carry on up to the summit but as I reached it the rumbling got worse, I touched the stone marking Irelands highest point thinking - lightning strikes the highest point and here I am. I started galloping downhill, the thunder bursts got worse, the rain started, the heavens opened and then I saw the lightning!
I prayed and ran and prayed, until I eventually got to the bottom and shelter. Ever since that day I scared of this phenomenon and will always head indoors at the first sign - and stay there until it's all over.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

We still have summer in this part of the world!!

Sumandebray said...

Great description as always!
Storms are great to experience as long as one is inside a secured shelter. We as kids experienced regular storms born due to low pressure in the Bay of Bengal. At times it used to feel that it is going to rip the roof apart and was quite scary.
Honestly I would not dare to be in a car
The pictures are simply superb and says it all.. as we all know pictures speaks louder than words.

Zuzana said...

yes, I would love to hear about your own thunderstorm experience.;) I guess anyone with a bit of sense shows the utmost respect for these storms.;)) Always glad when you stop by.;))

yes, the animals feel these things very strongly.;) The weather is very strange all across the globe, with the recent floods, mudslides and earthquakes.
Thank you so much for stopping by.;))xo

thank you, your comments are the best, always so kind. Hope the weather was not too severe for you yesterday.;)) Here it is raining again. I guess summer is definitely over now.

oh, I am sure you will be just fine!;)) Even if it is the swine flue, you will recover; it is nothing but a bad flue. In fact I myself am not feeling too good this morning, so I wonder if I should be saying my good byes as well.;)) LOL!
Thanks for stopping by and get well soon.;)

yes, I know you must have plenty of storms where you live.;)) How fun that you went around saying that as a child, so sweet.;)) I am sure it was because the thunder feels usually more scary than the lightning.;))
Thank you for your kind words.;)xo

I so understand the fear/attraction. That is how we feel about most dangerous thnigs as it makes us feel alive. I bet your views of the storms must be something similar to the picture below my post (not mine by the way).
Always love your comments.;)

thank you for your kind compliment, glad you like your visits here.;)) I can imagine how scary it must have been with those storms and with small kids as well. I recall spending a night in the bathroom during a hurricane. I did not cry though, but was close to.;))

OMG, what a story! I so can understand the fear you must have felt when running down the mountain, feeling the electricity all around you. My parents as young couple were also caught in a really bad storm once while hiking in the country side and to this day my mother is terrified of thunderstorms, even inside a safe place.
Always enjoy your visits.;))

lucky you, here it is about to end.))

thank you so much.;) I am sure the storms you describe must have been so much more severe, due to the climate. After all, our storms are few and far between. Severity is highly unusual, but we can have strong windstorms in late autumn and winter.
Glad you like the pictures, even though I can not claim taking them.;))

Gal Friday said...

As it turns out...we never did have any thunderstorms yesterday, OR last night. I was all ready(and excited) for some thrilling electrical storm and ...nothing. Maybe today...

Hilary said...

Wow.. I'm glad you were safe. I know how frightening thunder storms can be.. and yet I do love them. There was a nasty hit here a couple of days ago.. a young Mom and her two children were either struck, or were standing where a strike traveled through the ground. Mom is doing ok but the little ones are in critical condition. It arrived without much warning.. just one small cloud in an otherwise clear sky. I'll bet you were relieved when it was over. How long til you found Batcat? :)

Zuzana said...

I think it is better they were absent.;) I rather be enjoying clear evenings; here we are getting a taste of autumn more and more every single day...

what a terrible incident! Here something similar happened about 3 weeks ago when a young promising football (soccer) player got struck and was later in a coma for 2 weeks. He did recover but a few years prior in a similar accident a young man died. The storms are so unpredictable and as you say the lightning can appear from out of nowhere.
Yes, Batcat emerged after the storm passed.;))