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                   Sunday, July 6, 2008 - 10:00PM

Charleston lightning and all-day flood chasing

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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A long day of driving up and down mountain roads today on a wild goose chase after stationary thunderstorms. Since today's storms were not large enough to cause major flood events, the goal was to get more flash flood wave footage - the phenomenon where a flood wave rushes down a creek, causing the water to rise a few inches per second. I caught a couple of weak waves that didn't amount to much in the way of dramatic footage. What I did do was nearly burn up my brakes coming down what I think may be the steepest and curviest mountain road in West Virginia, Peach Tree Road between Artie and Pax just off of I-77 in Raleigh County. I didn't think it was possible to do this to brakes in a car, but yes, it can happen. I'll explain in a later post.

On my way back home from Madison in Boone County, where I caught what I thought was my last storm of the day, a huge cell exploded just north of Charleston and began firing off intense cloud-to-ground lightning. I could see all of it as I drove north on Route 119. At one point, I snapped a photo out of the windshield and caught a bolt completely by chance, without even trying:


Click to enlarge

I knew that this would probably not last long enough for me to make the 10 miles to Fort Hill, and for the most part I was right. Fort Hill was dry, with a heavy rain core on the mountain on the other side of the river. The bolts I missed were likely hitting down in the valley between Fort Hill and the opposite ridge - a painful thing to miss it by a few minutes. This was the only one left after I got set up:


Click to enlarge

I ran into Jerry Waters and Chris Pence on Fort Hill, who had come out to watch the storm after hearing the commotion.

One more photo for now of the storm near Madison:


Click to enlarge

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