Tony Propp - TeacherWeb

Tony Propp
Creative Writing
Ms. Mahnken
Almost Struck
Early in the morning of September 7th 2009 Tony Propp woke up to see what the weather
models looked like. They looked the same as he predicted the day before. Tony knew that he was going
to be heading out to storm chase that day. In the mean time, the unstable air and the humidity was
rising minute by minute and the storm was ready to blast rain, hail, lightning, and even tornadoes.
The storm was just a small water droplet, but before you knew it there were millions of them
coming together and then a cumulus cloud formed. The water molecules were bonding to each other
like glue, ready to create a huge storm. Meanwhile, Tony was getting all of his chase gear ready for the
big storm chase today and loading it in the vehicle.
Tony started out on his trip to see what kind of storms were out in the area. That day had the
potential for Supercell Thunderstorms with possible tornadoes which were very uncommon in Western
Washington. Tony saw a few small storms flare up but nothing huge. Today was a day where he needed
to get a nice storm for his storm chasing team.
The cumulus cloud finally became a cumulonimbus cloud, it was now lifted around 40 to 50
Thousand feet in the atmosphere, an updraft was formed sending water droplets up into the top parts
of the cloud creating hail as the clouds rubbed together creating static electricity. Positive and negative
charges started connecting from the cloud to the ground causing cloud to ground lightning strikes.
Tony positioned himself just north of Fort Lewis in a field so that he could see everything he
needed to see. He was so excited and anxious to start chasing the storm. The storm was also excited and
anxious to see him, which is how he felt at least. “I feel that I connect with Mother Nature and we work
together, but it also I feel a larger connection with god” Tony says. As he sits and waits with that
connection with Mother Nature, Tony looks at the radar imagery on his laptop. It shows a very good
amount of rotation and a very nice reflectivity reading.
Within the storm the updraft is getting even stronger and causing the storm to rotate even
more. Not only was the storm creating a tornado danger but it was also causing the fierce strikes of
lightning. Lightning is approximately 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit or six times hotter than the sun and also
kills more people worldwide than tornadoes do. Lightning is very dangerous and Tony knew that, he has
always been safe in storms with frequent lightning.
Tony finally saw the storm in the distance heading toward him. He saw how strong the storm
was and how frequent the lighting was and he knew he was in for a big one. He got out of the vehicle
and stood outside of it, the first thing he did was got his camera out to take photos. “The front of the
storm was so beautiful, it was the storm of all storms” Tony said.
As the storm approached, it was too late for Tony to turn back. He read the storm like a book.
He knew everything that was going to happen and everything he said would happen, happened. He also
knew that when someone gets struck by lightning, if they are lucky, the lightning doesn’t travel through
the body, it travels around the surface of the skin. One lightning strike could power a turned on
household light bulb for several months. That amount of voltage can obviously kill someone easily. And
being that it’s hotter than the sun it could turn someone into a crisp. He knew all of this but still took the
People survive lightning strikes and live to tell about it, but how? It’s simple, that person may be
wet from rain water or sweat and the lightning strikes around the body rather than in. Causing severe
burns on the skin but allowing the person to live to tell about it. The storm was ready to strike anything
in its path. As it raced toward Tony, he knew what he was in for. Wind, Rain, hail, and even tornadoes,
but he didn’t even think about the biggest danger, which was lightning.
The storm was now so close that Tony felt that he could reach out and touch it. He was taking
amazing pictures that he was so excited about. He took pictures of himself with the storm knowing that
it was the storm of the year. All the sudden he sees a lowering in the cloud, and sure enough it was a
wall cloud. On the radar he saw another storm northeast of him near Enumclaw, Washington and that
storm produced a tornado which really gave Tony mixed emotions. He was angry that he didn’t get it,
yet anxious because the environment was good for tornadoes and he had a wall cloud right in front of
Tony didn’t know it but he was standing in a field of positive and negative charges and above
him in the clouds were the same thing. Lightning obviously needs positive and negative charges to
strike. All of the sudden the storm unleashed its fury on Tony blowing winds of 70 mph at him as well as
heavy rain which was piercing his face. He was so fascinated that he still didn’t leave. Within the storm
the charges met together, and that fierce hot high voltage thing we call lightning was formed. Tony was
so small compared to the storm and it wanted to show him who is boss.
The lightning struck the ground sending Tony into a very weird state. He couldn’t hear anything
after the booming thunder, and couldn’t see from the blinding flash. He found himself stumbling around
not seeing or hearing. He felt the heat and smelt the ionized air. He knew he had almost been struck.
“God was definitely looking after me that day; lightning usually strikes the highest point off the ground
in the charged area. The highest point was a pole, but I was the next tallest thing” Tony said. The
lightning had struck only 30 yards away from him.
After the strike Tony couldn’t see anything so he couldn’t drive away from the storm, and the
wall cloud was still rotating by him. He didn’t know if he was going to be hit by a tornado or if he was
completely out of the storm. His vision finally came back enough for him to just barely see the screen of
his cell phone and he called the National Weather Service alerting them of the wall cloud.
After about a half an hour he could see good enough to go back on the road. He followed the
storm until the storm died. No tornado formed which put Tony in a bitter sweet state. He wanted to see
a tornado but didn’t want to get himself into danger by not being able to see well enough to escape the
storm. The next day Tony asked himself “Why did the lightning strike on the ground like that and not hit
me or the pole” Tony went back the next day still not being able to hear fully and saw that there was a
large metal plate on the ground for a power generator.
That power generator is what pretty much saved his life. He still could have been struck. Tony
now chases with much more safety. He still gets out but when the lightning gets frequent he gets in the
chase vehicle and lets the high lightning part get past him. He is still very fascinated with weather and
will chase many storms to come. He will be chasing much stronger storms in the near future and will
have many more stories to tell.