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Caught on tape: Storm chaser survives lightning strike

Storm chasers face multiple hazards in pursuit of Earth’s most violent storms.

They include getting blasted by storm debris, bombarded by hail, blown away by a tornado’s winds, and swept away by a flash flood

Lightning also frequently poses a danger for storm chasers, and came close to claiming a victim Tuesday.  Scott Sheppard of SevereStudios Storm Chasing was struck in the arm recording rainbow footage near Fairburn, South Dakota.  Here’s the video (the strike occurs 14 seconds in):

 

In addition to the dramatic boom generated by the lightning, the resulting burn scars in the pavement (shown towards the end of the video) are remarkable.

(Screenshot from YouTube video)
(Screenshot from YouTube video)

Generally, a car is a safe place to be during lightning due to the Faraday cage effect in which the car’s frame, comprised of conducting material, serves as a shield.  But once you open the window and extend limbs, you lose protection and expose yourself.

“The strike hit his arm and then traveled down to the ground and blew a hole in the pavement,” SevereStudios’ Facebook page says. “The lightning also disabled his vehicle which had to be towed. Scott has a sore arm but is otherwise OK.”

Related: Capital Weather Gang lightning science and safety posts

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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