OPINION

When things go BOOM!

Susan Manzke
The lightning strike stripped the bark right off the pine tree.

I continue to be a weather watcher. When I married Bob in 1973, I became a farmer. Because of this change in my occupation weather matters became very important to me.

Even though I’m no longer physically farming, I continue to watch the weather. The most important part of a news broadcast is the few minutes that are spent on the weather. I can’t understand when I talk to family members and they don’t have a clue what weather will be affecting Wisconsin this week.

Last Tuesday morning, I was watching the local weather report when my cellphone weather alert sounded, and then the weather band radio started beeping. A line of thunderstorms was popping up in Outagamie County, but according to the television radar, the worst was south of me. No tornadoes were predicted, but hail could appear anywhere.

I had plenty of time to walk out to my car and park it in the shed garage. The northern sky looked a little wonky but thunder rumbling was far away.

The television meteorologist continued to send out high wind and hail warnings. They even stayed on past their sign-off time to keep viewers informed.

Shelf cloud approaches.

I felt safe. The worst was far from me.

A shelf cloud passed overhead. There wasn’t the blast of wind here that often came with such a shelf cloud formation. (I heard later that other areas got that blast of wind.)

My dog, Sunny, was restless. Most times when a storm passes overhead, he ignores it. This morning he paced and ended up finding shelter behind Bob’s chair in the living room where I was sitting.

The news reports showed hail the size of golf balls and much larger softball-sized hail. By the radar, I saw that the falling chunks of ice had gone far from me.

Suddenly lightning flashed and thunder boomed all at the same time. I jumped at the sound and so did Sunny and my cats.

It seemed to have struck the house, though my electricity never flickered. I stuck my head outside the back door and smelled the ozone that was left over after the lightning strike.

Susan stands next to the lightning-struck pine tree just outside her house.

Because the flashes continued outside, I took time to check all the inside corners of my house. My nerves were rattled, but nothing seemed to have been affected by the lightning.

When the storm moved away, I went outside. The scent of ozone was almost gone. At this point I walked around the house, expecting to find a treetop blown off.

I found nothing during this quick check of my farmyard.

The following day, I had more time to look around. To my horror, I found where the lightning had hit. It was 30 feet from where the dog and I had been sitting in the house.

No branches from the pine tree had been blown off but three deep gouges ran down from the top of the tree to the ground. I couldn’t believe my good luck.

I had heard stories of similar lightning strikes. The unlucky houses had all their wiring fried. Appliances and computers were destroyed. It was a long time before my friends’ homes were put back to normal.

My computer had been plugged in when the lightning hit. I could have lost my writing. I feel blessed that nothing like that happened.

When another thunderstorm rolls into my area again I will be much more concerned. Definitely, I’ll turn off my computer and pull the plug on it and on the television, too.

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

I am thankful for that tall pine tree. Without it to take the lightning blast my house could have gotten a direct hit. Trees are good neighbors.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog