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The Smell Of Lightning.: A Storm Chaser's Diary, #2 (Part One).!
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado   

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A storm chaser in Colorado writes about a particularly dangerous storm that he chased and how he nearly ended up being struck by lightning.

(Image of anvil crawler lightning [c] 2011, by Karla Dorman.)

Durango, Colorado, August 2011~

If I don't see another storm, it will be too freaking soon ...

The other day, storms popped off just east of the Rocky Mountains, and conditions were such that they turned nasty fairly quickly.  From innocent friendly-looking puffy white clouds to black, roiling, agitated monsters in less than fifteen minutes, replete with frequent (and dangerous) lightning, large hailstones up to the size of quarters, golf balls, or even bigger, extremely heavy rains that could cause flash flooding, and winds in excess of 70 miles an hour.  It wasn't long before we realized that these storms meant business.

Our portable radar and computer gear forewarned us of the potential for deadly weather; we were prepared to act on it, chase these storms, and get the necessary information out to the public, to keep them warned (and hopefully safe) from the potential for bad weather.  Before the storms though, we were enjoying a cup of joe (and some pancakes with bacon) at the local truck stop; we were all hungry.  All we had to do now was wait for the clouds to appear: the gloriously sunny skies gave little hint of what was to occur later on that afternoon or evening.

The morning ws pleasant enough.  We enjoyed ourselves, just relaxing and enjoying the mountainous countryside around us.  It was humid, with temps expected into the upper eighties or lower nineties; the cap would surely break once the heating of the day started to take place (roughly around two o'clock).  Once it did, the storms would quickly form and we would then be chasing ourselves a storm (or maybe two if we were lucky enough).

I even had the added benefit of taking a nap, which is a rare thing in my line of work.  I slept for two hours.  It was wonderful; it was the best sleep I'd gotten in weeks, ever since this crazy storm season first began.

Around twelve thirty/one o'clock, the first of the clouds started appearing.  They looked like fluffy baby lambs.  Cute, innocent, nothing dangerous at all about them.  We knew that looks were deceiving: by two o'clock, these beautiful little clouds would soon grow into terrifying beasts loaded with ammo: lightning (LOTS of lightning!), thunder, big hail, heavy, possibly flooding rains, winds in excess of 70 miles per hour, and maybe even the big guns: tornadoes which could wreak havoc if the tor was strong (or big) enough.

True to its promise, the cute clouds soon turned in on themselves and morphed into roiling, agitated monsters.  Blue skies were soon replaced with black or grey skies: blue, white, and pink lightning danced a mad manical dance on the horizon or played keep away among the clouds, thunder boomed and rolled continually, and the wind buffeted us and our chase vehicle.  The radars were lit up like Christmas trees and the alarms squealed their warning signal, alerting us to possible threatening weather occurring shortly.

Just as I was gathering some data, a brilliant white flash exploded.  The force of the blast knocked me several feet back and both my vision and hearing disappeared.  The air was suddenly pregnant with the unmistakable odor of ozone.  I thought I had been struck; that was the last thought I had before I mercifully passed out.  Or did I?

~To be continued.~   

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