March 29, 2012
The photo above shows a small trench discovered in the aftermath of a thunderstorm that moved through Berryville, Arkansas on February 19, 2012. It was made by a lightning strike that plowed approximately 180 ft (55 m) through the earth after first contacting the ground. The trench is about 1 ft (0.3 m) wide and 15 in (0.4 m) deep -- it looks like it was dug by a backhoe. The intense heat generated by a powerful lightning bolt is capable of melting or even vaporizing most objects in its path. This down-strike, in addition to the digging the trench, split a large piece of quartzite (about 18 in or 0.5 m across -- see inset) and damaged three small trees.
Photo details: Top - Camera Maker: EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY; Camera Model: KODAK EASYSHARE C183 Digital Camera; Focal Length: 5.7mm (35mm equivalent: 32mm); Aperture: f/2.9; Exposure Time: 0.013 s (1/80); ISO equiv: 64; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB. Inset - Same except Exposure Time: 0.025 s (1/40).