Democracy Dies in Darkness

Capital Weather Gang

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

By Angela Fritz

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. She has a BS in meteorology and an MS in earth and atmospheric science.

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