Electrifying start to September on the National Mall

September 4, 2012

Lightning strikes to the south of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, September 1, 2012. See image larger.

Once the opportunity presented itself...

When sunset neared, it was pretty apparent that there would be no color as clouds blocked the entire sky. I also noticed a small shower to the northwest growing into a thunderstorm. That first little cell didn’t produce all that much lightning, and I was prepared to head home as it moved away to the southeast. Fortunately, I checked radar on my iPhone before doing that, and I noticed a new line developing just north and west.

After hitting the Lincoln Memorial for shelter, I headed back out into the light rain and took some more shots. Somehow, these were my first lightning photos on the Mall, though I’ve captured it in a number of other places like the Plains where it’s arguably easier since you are only exposing for lightning in most cases. Of course, a recent nighttime treck in D.C. ended in personal disaster!

Some redemption I suppose. Should I call it #Ambroseing?


The base of a developing thunderstorm is seen to the northwest of Washington, D.C. heading into sunset.

The thunderstorm begins to mature while passing mainly just to the northeast of D.C. See image larger.

Some low clouds obscure relatively distant lightning as the city lights turn clouds pink during dusk. See image larger.

A powerful positive stroke is seen from another small pop-up over southeast D.C. after dark sets in. This is the last photo of the first set of storms. See image larger. See image larger.

After holding off departure because of new storms forming, I took refuge in the Lincoln Memorial as rain poured down outside. A couple seemed to enjoy the moment...

Two images are stacked showing lightning strikes following the second round of storms. The storm was severe warned to the southeast at this point. See image larger.

Two images are stacked showing lightning strikes following the second round of storms. The storm was severe warned to the southeast at this point. See image larger.
Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank.
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