Tony Propp Creative Writing 1/14/10 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 risk. 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 him. 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.