Democracy Dies in Darkness

Capital Weather Gang

Watch a bolt of lightning obliterate this telephone pole, then watch it again in slo-mo

July 26, 2016 at 9:24 AM

This is quite possibly the scariest thing about thunderstorms. They don't have to spawn tornadoes, drop softball-size hail or even be particularly strong to be deadly serious.

Case in point, this video.

Anja Englert was driving down Irving Park Road in Chicago on Sunday evening during a torrential downpour. A line of thunderstorms was rolling across northern Illinois. Seemingly out of nowhere, a bolt of lightning comes crashing from the sky and shatters a wooden telephone pole in an explosion of flames and splinters right in front of the camera.

A severe thunderstorm warning was in effect at the time, but the truth is if you're outside during any thunderstorm, you won't get a warning before lightning strikes.

Nineteen people have died from lightning so far this year, and every one of them was preventable. We don't tell people to take shelter in a storm just because of tornadoes or strong winds; you risk being struck by lightning whenever you hear thunder.

Watch more!
Chicago officials are investigating claims that a lightning strike caused a canopy to fall onto Transit Authority train tracks during severe weather Sunday, July 24. (Reuters)

Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Washington Post's deputy weather editor. Before joining The Post, Fritz worked as a meteorologist at CNN in Atlanta and Weather Underground in San Francisco. She has a BS in meteorology and an MS in earth and atmospheric science.

Post Recommends

We're glad you're enjoying The Washington Post.

Get access to this story, and every story, on the web and in our apps with our Basic Digital subscription.

Welcome to The Washington Post

Thank you for subscribing
Keep reading for $10 $1
Show me more offers