Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
Weather, photography and the open roadClick for an important message
Lightning Season in West Virginia

March 15, 2002

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West Virginia's storm season doesn't really begin until about mid-April, but March typically brings one or two small displays of lightning to the state. A strong cold front brought one such event to our area on Friday evening, March 15.

Strong, gradually weakening cells in eastern Kentucky and Ohio slowly moved northeast into West Virginia at sunset, bringing mostly intracloud lightning flashes and soft rumbles of thunder to most of the eastern half of the state. The storms brought heavy rains that obscured most of the lightning channels, making them unworthy for any attempts at photography. Moreover, the cells were losing steam as they moved east into the mountains, and by 8:00pm there wasn't much lightning left in them.

Nonetheless, I stood out in Spring Hill Cemetery on an access road with the camera set up and ready to shoot, fighting the wind and rain with the large umbrella - almost at the expense of my camera. The quick-mount shoe on the camera was loose, so I took it off of the tripod and tightened it. Then, in the darkness, I re-mounted it sideways on the tripod by accident, leaving no latch to hold it. As soon as I let go of the camera, it dove to the pavement with a sickening crack.

I picked it up expecting the worst. But the shutter still opened and closed just fine, and I could still see clearly through the lens. After I was inside, I could see that the edge of the lens took the impact with the road, jarring the focusing mechanism slightly out of alignment and making turning the mechanism difficult - but it still works. What a relief.

After the camera mishap, I packed up and went inside. I opened the windows in the house, and enjoyed the rest of the evening with the relaxing sounds of a fading pre-spring evening storm moving overhead.

Below: A March thunderstorm claims the season's first equipment casualty

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