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Posted at 10:56 AM ET, 09/28/2012

Anvil crawler lightning over the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.


Anvil crawlers stretch across the sky over the Tidal Basin as a distant cloud-to-ground lightning bolt strikes in Fairfax County. A larger version of the photo can be found here. (Kevin Ambrose)

Thunderstorms over the western suburbs of Washington were very slow to move eastward last night. For over an hour, they put on a light show across the western sky. Much of the lightning came in the form of anvil crawlers which branch (or crawl) across the sky near the thunderstorm’s anvil top like tentacles.

There were some cloud-to-ground strikes but the thunderstorms seemed to weaken as they moved into D.C. and the lightning slowly diminished.

See below for more photos.

A year ago, I photographed another light show at the Jefferson Memorial. That thunderstorm produced much more cloud-to-ground lightning and the storm moved quickly through Washington. The lightning photos look much different.

Last night’s storms generally produced around 0.5-0.75” of rain, but amounts increased rapidly southwest of Fairfax county to 1-3”+ in western Prince William and southern Fauquier counties. North and east of the District, totals tailed off and were more in the 0.1-0.5” range. Storm totals at the airports were 0.73” at Reagan National, 0.62” at Dulles and 0.2” at BWI .


Not all of the lightning was anvil crawlers. Two cloud-to-ground lightning bolts strike west of Washington, D.C. A larger version of the photo can be found here.(Kevin Ambrose)

Anvil crawlers over the Tidal Basin. A larger version of the photo can be found here.(Kevin Ambrose)

Anvil crawlers over the Tidal Basin. A larger version of the photo can be found here.(Kevin Ambrose)

Cloud-to-cloud lightning over the Washington Monument. (Kevin Ambrose)

Here are some great lightning photos from CWG readers on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for the submissions....

By  |  10:56 AM ET, 09/28/2012

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