Lightning Strike Video

April 14th, 2013 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

I’ve mentioned the TV tower I live next to (er…I mean “mast”), and at 1,000 1,500 ft tall it is a great lightning attractor. Since the top of the tower is up at a 60+ deg. angle, it’s a little hard on the neck to watch, so I sometimes lie down in the backyard to watch.

The severe storms that moved through town on Thursday gave me a chance to capture some lightning video with my Sony Handycam. Lightning was coming out of a thunderstorm anvil in advance of the squall line and hitting the tower before the rain arrived, a prime time for viewing. The strokes were coming every 3-5 minutes. The lightning strike I got video of started with an upward leader stroke (see the above frame grab).

In the video (below) the conducting channel of air is blown rapidly sideways by the wind, leading to a right-angle turn in the bolt at the top of the antenna. Then there’s a second stroke which reconnects more directly to the antenna, but it’s really only noticeable when individual frames are examined.

This is handheld, and I’m zoomed in pretty tight, but the Handycam’s image stabilization does a pretty good job. Oh..and turn the sound up!

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