Monumental Lightning Strike

July 14, 2005


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

On July 1, 2005 at 11:18 p.m. (local time) lightning struck the Washington Monument as a severe thunderstorm moved towards Washington, D.C. from Maryland. The storm produced vivid lightning and briefly heavy rain across the city. This photograph was taken from the Jefferson Memorial, looking across the Tidal Basin. The heavy rain associated with the storm had not yet arrived, thus allowing a clear view of the lightning strike. It's interesting that the Monument was struck from the side by the huge, powerful bolt, but also note the illuminated lightning streamer coming off the top of the Monument toward the primary bolt. The Washington Monument at 555 feet (169 m) is the highest building in Washiington and has an extensive lightning rod protection system. See also the Earth Science Picture of the Day for October 2, 2003.

Photo details: a timed exposure of 8 seconds was used, at F6.3, with an Olympus 5050 digital camera.

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