I’m sure I wasn’t the only person in the Puget Sound region who was shocked into wakefulness by a loud crash of thunder this morning. I was thrilled — in a positive sense — that it happened.
In my 11½ years as a Seattle resident, I recall exactly zero times when I’ve experienced a real, honest-to-god thunderstorm before today. On those very few occasions when we’ve had any lightning/thunder at all, it was always just a single flash and crash. And that one solitary event was often water-cooler fodder the next day.
That’s not how it was where I grew up. No, I’m not talking about Tornado Alley or any of those midwestern states where you could see that line of thunderstorms approaching for an hour or two before it hit. I’m from South Jersey (Exit 4, as we like to describe it). We had plenty of electrical storms there as well. The main difference was that we couldn’t see them coming as easily, since we had trees and hills and buildings there.
I love thunderstorms. Love the way the air seems to turn yellowish as the storm nears. Love to watch the sheets of rain as they pour down (under a non-conductive roof, that is). Once, when I lived in Pittsburgh, we sat on the front porch and saw an electrical transformer on a telephone pole across the street completely shorted out by a lightning hit … sparks, almost fireworks, and of course the neighborhood was suddenly without power.
I wonder whether very many Washingtonians know how to estimate how far away a lightning flash happens. It’s a simple formula, but why would anyone who grew up around here be familiar with it?
So, am I right or wrong about this? If you’re a Washington (or maybe just PacNW west of the Cascades) native, do you know how to calculate that distance? Do you even know that such an estimate is possible?
If you do know how to figure it, just say so; don’t reveal the formula. Wouldn’t want to let the other guys know about it too soon.