Washington Monument and Lightning Bolt

October 02, 2003

8_27_03_web


Provided and copyright by: Kevin Ambrose
Summary authors & editors: Kevin Ambrose

During the period of August 26-28, 2003, large clusters of strong and severe thunderstorms moved through the Washington, D.C. area, producing hail, strong winds, and widespread power outages. In addition, over 50,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occurred throughout the D.C. area during the three day period. This impressive lightning bolt hit about 800 meters from the Washington Monument, near the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, during the evening of August 27, 2003. I photographed the lightning bolt from the relative safety of a truck while I waited for the storms to move through. The thunder followed the strike by a fraction of a second and sounded like a loud gunshot immediately followed by a deep boom. The thunder is caused when the lightning bolt, which is hotter than the surface of the Sun, superheats the air causing it to expand and contract rapidly, producing sound waves.

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