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Woman Captures Rare & Deadly 'Positive' Lightning Strike Right Outside Her House

Thunder and lightning storms are par for the course in many parts of the country around this time of year, but few of us will ever experience what one Florida woman caught on video earlier this week during some particularly threatening weather...

Thunder and lightning storms are par for the course in many parts of the country around this time of year, but few of us will ever experience what one Florida woman caught on video earlier this week during some particularly threatening weather. A rare bolt of wildly powerful "positive" lightning -- 10 times stronger than a normal flash -- struck just outside her apartment window, smacking the ground with the sort of sound and fury you'd expect to see in a superhero movie. 

While watching a storm pass by from her Boynton Beach home on Sunday, Erica Hite started filming out her window to capture the craziness of it all. Then, in a split second, a giant bolt of lightning struck the parking lot feet from where she was standing, prompting her to understandably jump back. Fortunately, she got the whole moment on tape, though.

It turns out that this particular bolt was an unusual and deadly "positive" lightning strike -- one with a continuous current -- according to the folks at the National Weather Service in Miami who watched the video, per a Palm Beach Post report. 

"Positive" lightning is particularly dangerous, since it originates from the top of a thunderstorm (where clouds are positive charged), and can strike ground as far as 25 miles away from precipitation, according to the National Weather Service. Normal "negative" lighting strikes, on the other hand, originate from the lower clouds and strike directly underneath. Since "positive" strikes must burn through a bigger amount of air, they have much bigger electric fields and can hit with up to one billion volts. They only account for about 5% of lightning strikes, but are incredibly dangerous and destructive, often cited as the cause of forest fires and fire line damage.

Luckily, Hite and her home were unharmed, but she said the bolt damaged a concrete dumpster enclosure.

“It was crazy. Very scary, very loud,” Hite said in an interview with the Post. “It was just the right place at the right time. I could probably never in my life get something like that again.”

And while it actually seems like more of a right place, wrong time sort of situation, at least no one got hurt.

h/t Palm Beach Post


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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.