Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Gauley Mountain Lightning: Chimney Corner, WV, August 7, 2000 - 8:30 PM

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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Eventually you'll go through a phase in your life where you wonder what the whole point of your being here is. Has the thought ever struck you that all you're really doing is working, sleeping, eating, over, and over, and over . . . I have to say that there is something worth living for. You're going to love this.

As I left work at 5:00pm, a small, growing cloud was visible just north of St. Albans.

30 minutes later, it had grown into a monster cell with a large anvil, along with about 7 other comparable cells surrounding Charleston (see panoramic composite & first radar image below).

During the rapid growth of these storms, several pileus caps were briefly visible (photo at right). Pileus are almost as hard to catch as lightning- you've got about 10 seconds to shoot one before it vanishes.

The lightning didn't start until about 7:00pm, when one of the storms finally hit the city head-on (middle radar image below). This one was flashing so frequently that I couldn't resist driving 50 miles to catch up and get back into it. I headed east on Route 60 and finally caught up to the front edge of the storms just past Gauley Bridge. On top of Gauley Mountain, I pulled off of the road at a scenic overlook with a view of the New River Gorge below as the remnants of the once-strong storm system produced some spectacular fireworks (third radar image below, the blue arrow marks Chimney Corner).

At 9:00pm, an anvil crawler connected to ground at two spots in a particularly spectacular display. The stepped leaders of both ground connections are visible on single frames of the video, just prior to the first return strokes:

Composite panoramic view, looking north over downtown Charleston from Fort Hill at 5:45pm:

Camera/Lens/Film: 35mm Pentax K1000 SLR, 28mm lens, Kodak 100 ASA.
Exposure: 30-45 seconds @ F8

Video: Panasonic VHS-C Palmcorder PV-L857

[ click images to enlarge ]
[ video/audio links below photos ]


MPEG Video - 258KB
[ 400KB Slow-Motion GIF ]


MPEG Video - 248KB

More Video from August 7:


8:30pm at Chimney Corner (254KB)


7:00pm in Charleston (281KB)


7:00pm in Charleston (237KB)

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