Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Lights, Camera, Action: Kanawha City, WV, August 9, 2000 - 9:30 PM

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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Turns out that the recently closed United Artists' Kanawha Cinemas is still good for something.

The 9-screen theater in Kanawha City closed in July 2000, leaving a perfect place under the entrance to shoot lightning. The now quiet, dark entrance offers nice views to the north and south- which I took advantage of when monster storms roared through Charleston on Wednesday night.

Despite 3 1/2 hours of bright, close lightning, tornado warnings, 61 mph straight-line winds with countless power flashes, and spectacular anvil crawlers, I came away from these storms with only one catch. Not a great average, considering reports that these storms produced over 11,000 cloud-to-ground strikes in a few hours. Heavy wind and rain forced me to retreat from my first shooting position at the theater, causing me to miss 3 close, loud, spectacular, bright, multiple-return-stroke blasts of lightning to the south. I aimed north, away from the rain in hopes that one of the spectacular bolts that were crashing all around would hit in my view. It didn't happen.

The one bolt that cooperated with me was this sidewinder CG about 1.5 miles away. However, this photo doesn't even begin to capture the fierceness and frequency of the lightning during these storms- some of the best I've ever seen.

Fast forward to 11:00pm. A nice little storm is passing to the north, and I'm set up at the Bigley Foodland where power has been knocked out by the first cluster of storms. Great clear-air (unobstructed by clouds) anvil crawlers are shooting across the sky. Thanks to the power outage, no annoying streetlights are in the way. Shutter open. *click*. Enter a power company truck with spotlight, driving right at me looking for the source of the outage. I'm forced to close the shutter as the headlights shine right at me. *click*. 2 seconds later- FLASH. Missed it. Truck drives off. You could almost hear the imaginary 'golf spectator' audience sigh, "aawwwwww"....

Like other outdoor sports in West Virginia, you always have bad hunts like these. But that's what makes the big catches all the more sweeter.

Camera/Lens/Film: 35mm Pentax K1000 SLR, 28mm lens, Kodak 100 ASA.
Exposure: 10 seconds @ F8

Video: Panasonic VHS-C Palmcorder PV-L857

[ click image to enlarge ]


MPEG Video - 235KB

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