Incredible lightning storm, 2003
Weather patterns in central Texas are very spotty. Little local storms pop up -- often called "popcorn showers" -- in one place while five or ten miles away there is bright sun.
We had one of these weird storms the other night. Or rather, *we* didn't have it. Some of our neighbors had it. We saw on the TV radar a very intense storm that missed us by a hair. A major front came through but didn't cause much trouble until it was thirty miles to the east. By that time, it was completely clear here in Austin, a lovely, moonlit night. But there was a helluva thunderstorm in Bastrop. All red and purple on the weather radar.
From the front of the house, we can see one cloud to the east, running from north to south, maybe 15 degrees high in the sky. Let's see. If it were only ten miles away, a little trig would make it 13,000 feet high. Since it is about thirty miles away, then it is 40,000 feet high. Yeow. That makes it a serious thunderstorm.
And so it is. The cloud is filled with lightning, 3-4 strokes per second. Per *second*, not per minute. I stood outside watching for half an hour. It moved farther away and to the south but was just as intense. Unbelievable. I've seen heat lightning before and clouds that flashed with internal lightning now and then. But nothing this visible and nothing even a fraction this frequent. According to the weather report, the towns under the cloud got the snot beat out of them with golf-ball to tennis-ball size hail.