That's Another Story

Lightning About to Strike

This story came to mind when we traveled on I-80 to Wichita in 2005.

We were on another trip to Wichita heading east on I-80 in our 1984 Lazy Daze motorhome. While we were out on the high-desert prairie the sun went down as a thunderstorm began to form. The rain began to fall and an occasional flash of lightning could be seen in the clouds. The lightning strokes were far enough away that we couldn't hear any thunder.

I had installed an amateur radio in place of the CB radio that came with our motorhome. As was my normal mode of operation then, I reached up and disconnected the antenna connector from the back of the transceiver. This was done as a precaution to keep an electrical discharge from reaching and frying the input to my 2-meter ham radio.

We were on the part of I-80 in Wyoming where we were heading for the highest point on I-80. As I drove into the night the thunderstorm grew in intensity. The rain was almost more than the wipers could clear from the windshield. Traffic was very light so I kept driving east.

The rain poured down on us as we continued to gain altitude. Suddenly I hear a snap sound. However, I was unable to determine from which direction the sound came from. It happened only once, so I assumed it was a one-time event. I thought that the sound might have come from a loose piece of trim that moved because of the road vibrations.

In about 10 minutes there was another SNAP sound. It only took a few minutes until I heard a SNAP, SNAP sound. I asked if Kay could figure out where it was coming from. It sounded as if the sound came from her side of the cab. It was a few minutes before there was a SNAP——SNAP-SNAP——SNAP.

Suddenly there was SNAP-SNAP-SNAP with a few seconds pause, then SNAP SNAP SNAP SNAP SNAP SNAP. This happened every few seconds and then I saw a very small flash on the windshield. It was then that I realized that the sound was coming from the antenna connector I had removed from my ham radio earlier. The center pin was arcing across to the ground side of the coax connector.

Now I was getting concerned that we may be climbing to the summit right into a lightening strike. The snapping sound became steady as I told Kay I thought we were about to get struck by lightening. I had no way of driving away from the raging storm, so I just hoped that the metal of the cab would shield us from harm.

SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP Just as I was ready for a hit, as we reached the summit, we began to descend and the snapping slowed. Pretty soon I heard just a few snaps separated by seconds, then minutes. We survived. I don't want to go through that experience again. On the plus side, my two-way radio was protected from being fried by the electricity from the sky.

That's the end of another story.


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