At SeaTac, our international airport here in Seattle, there was a happening storm in early May. Lightning is so rare in our area, but the build up to this light show had been in the making all day, and it was quite the reward to sit and enjoy the infrequent bursts of electricity slamming down from the heavens. Though the actual bolts were shrouded in torrential rain, the color spewing out of the clouds was still impressive. This isolated thunder storm had been foretasted, and as I drove south west to the airport from Duvall, I watched menacing clouds descending ahead. By the time I reached the cell lot, the action was in full swing as the sunset was blocked out of the sky completely by this storm. Below you can see the mounting clouds and a great blip on radar lower right, showing the isolated event, which peaked and spent its self before ever making it to the airport.
I’m a Midwestern girl, so cloud formations have always caught my eye. In Oklahoma, you learn storm cloud patterns and what they mean at an early age, ensuring meteorology literacy because of our very serious weather. Though never in a direct path of a tornado, I’ve spent my fair share of time in the closet under the stairs of my childhood home listening to roaring train sounds shuttering the house with frightening tenacity. When the sky darkens, hairs on the back of my neck rise. Lightning also offers a real sense of powerlessness in the face of weather’s wrath. I’ve been near enough striking bolts to feel electric current through the wet ground, and had to sit in a lightning safe position for hours with groups of campers spread out in the woods to prevent a mass strike. You’re at the mercy of the weather, especially when there is no shelter at hand.
Luckily, in this particular experience, the storm was a good show- from a distance. There was actually a perfect knoll to clime up on for a raised view, above the aircraft and chaos of arrival traffic spread out below. Was the storm affecting flights? Not really. As an isolated cell, flights could easily go around the brief, but intense event. Even with the wind blowing directly in my face as I watched, I remained dry and relatively warm sitting in the grass watching the show. There was even time to take some footage, though catching a bolt in mid-strike was some what challenging. Even these photos do little justice to the actual event, still, it was good to capture some of the electric light.
wait for it!