(Roughly) Daily

“If lightning is the anger of the gods, then the gods are concerned mostly about trees”*…

Mostly, but not entirely. Chloe Aridjis on survivors of lightning strikes…

There are three types of lightning: cloud to cloud, or intercloud, which leaps across gaps of clear air; intracloud, which doesn’t leave the cloud at all; and cloud to ground, the most threatening: a stream, or rather a meeting of two streams, of ionised particles, each following its own determined course, one towards the heavens, the other towards earth, and where they meet the air crackles with heat, creating a sky of forking paths.

To the attendees of the International Lightning Strike Survivor Conference, who have all had encounters with the third kind, the oft-mentioned statistic (nine out of ten survive) offers little consolation. Many of them, given the consequences, would prefer to have been struck dead. Survival provides small solace when your entire existence has been electrically altered.

Just as lightning isn’t a single event but rather a sequence of strokes, so the memory of a lightning strike returns in fierce, dramatic bolts rather than as one clear picture.

Distinguished ornithologist ALEX COSTA from Tampa, Florida, the lightning state (three times more strikes than any other in the US), was observing a rare migratory bird when struck, and when he returned to his senses the bird had vanished along with his shoes, binoculars and long-term memory. Indoor landscape painting (he rarely leaves home) has replaced ornithology and, with his good hand, he now paints imaginary woods and meadows. He doesn’t sleep much at night but reads and takes long naps in his armchair by the window….

What is it like to be touched by a lightning bolt? More current-charged recollections: “Notes on the International Lightning Strike Survivor Conference,” at @thedialmag.

* Lao Tzu


As we take cover, we might remember that it was on this date in 1864 that a train running from Cincinnati to Chicago was derailed by a tornado in Dearborn County, Indiana (about 75 miles southeast of Indianapolis). Three passenger cars were lifted from the tracks and dropped in a ravine, injuring 30 people.

The (Huntington) Indiana Herald (source)

Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 26, 2023 at 1:00 am

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