[Environment]

Primal Feelings

on surviving a lighting storm

By Reviewer Rob

I didn’t mention this before but better do it now before it fades into the oblivion of insignificance. I was almost struck by lighting Monday afternoon around 6 p.m..

I had parked my van in a lot near east Clairemont and was putting some blue painter tape on a leaky windshield seal because a storm was approaching when the lighting began. A few minutes earlier I’d been admiring the dark clouds to the east over Tierrasanta and noticed a couple of soundless flashes of light peripherally, no thunder yet, just far away blinks of light reflecting off the clouds. Then a couple of closer bolts to the south were followed seconds later by a low rumble. After that I was working on my van’s windshield grommet and there was one or two bolts of lighting to the north near Miramar that had a much shorter interval between them and their louder, sharper cracks of thunder. As I was finishing with applying the tape on the upper winsheild of my van, I was standing in the open passenger door jamb with one foot resting on the seat. Like this I can lean over and reach the upper roof of my full-sized van. It has off-road tires and is jacked up higher than stock. I was closer to the sky here and to the three ladders strapped onto my 7-inch roof racks.

I thought I’d remove the ladders and move them to the utility trailer I was towing, then there was a bright flash that filled the sky and made the shadows change direction, followed less than a second later by a gigantic cannon-boom of thunder. Air around me became infused with a crackling sound and the hair on my arms tingled upright. Employees from a business nearby came out and spoke excitedly as they looked at the sky. I had this immediate sense of primal dread, not panic, but it made me get down off the high standing position near the ladder rack and I decided to drive to a safer area, maybe one with lots of trees or tall buildings, and get out of the empty parking lot I was in. I can tranfer the ladders later, I thought.

Getting back in the van I calculated the survivability of being struck by lightning. I reasoned, “Maybe if it hits the ladders on top and I’m standing a few feet away I’ll be okay.” I enjoy dramatic weather but this is too much of a good thing.

Photo from an earlier storm: lightning lights up the sky in a San Diego neighborhood on Thursday, September 9, 2021.(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Photo from an earlier storm: lightning lights up the sky in a San Diego neighborhood on Thursday, September 9, 2021. (K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)