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That Time I Got Video of Lightning Striking a Frito-Lay Factory

It was the summer of 2006... I was 19 years old with all the time in the world for driving around filming lightning bolts in the middle of the night.


I went out around Midnight one night after a few storms that had erupted at dusk and were spouting off a ton of lightning. For whatever reason, it's been tough to get lightning photography to stick for me as a part of the storm chasing hobby. I've got a few bolts in my portfolio but most folks who try run laps around me with both quality and quantity. I'm much more inclined to try and capture the essence of being there through video + audio. When I was a teenager and it was harder for me to drive cross-country for supercells and tornadoes, I got a lot of joy out of these local lightning storms, and the ultimate prize for me was capturing video of a crazy close lightning strike.


I got all that and more driving around Champaign County this particular night. While sitting on a country road between taller-than-me corn crops filming a barrage of nearby lightning, a bolt struck the Frito-Lay corn processing plant between Homer and Sidney. The result was a glorious blue power flash that lit up the sky for several seconds following the bolt. Another bolt shortly after struck the power pole right outside my car with that classic audible static "click" before the crash of thunder... a sign that you were WAY too close to that one.


Like I said, as a teenager who was finding his wings in the storm documentation world, these summertime lightning storms were everything. If you follow my more recent storm observation VLOGs you'll even hear me reference these nights, "driving around all night, 18 years old, shooting video of lightning".


As I digitize my box of videotapes I'll continue to share these little glimpses into my past.




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