NEW ORLEANS — In what looks like a close call, a Louisiana woman's reflexes and luck saved her from getting hurt in a lightning strike.
Sarah Ribardi walked out of her Morgan City home around 7:45 p.m. Friday. Little did she know, she'd run back in seconds later.
Video shows the sky was illuminated with a flash of light as lightning struck a tree close to Ribardi's home, and thunder cracked through the atmosphere as Ribardi ducked for cover from incoming debris.
According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, lightning is three times hotter than the surface of the sun, and it travels at 90,000 miles per second.
The lightning that struck Morgan City was likely between 1 and 2 inches in diameter, and it superheated the air around the path it took from the clouds to the tree, creating a shock wave that is 10 times normal atmospheric pressure, a paper by the institute said.
Air all along the lightning's path exploded, sending sound at 758 mph through the atmosphere and warning Ribardi that something was coming. That sound was thunder.
Thunder at less than about 100 yards sounds like one large bang, not like the clapping sound heard from further distances.
Frame-by-frame, the video shows how debris shot through the air where Ribardi was once standing.
The debris damaged several homes, but luckily, Ribardi said no one was hurt.
WWLTV's Local Weather Expert and Meteorologist Alexandra Cranford said the power of lightning is staggering.
"A single bolt can pack well over a billion joules of energy," she said. "That much energy would keep your bedside lamp going for up to half a year."
People indoors during lightning storms should stay off electronics, avoid plumbing, stay away from windows, doors, and concrete walls.
That night, a strong thunderstorm popped up just northeast of Morgan City and slowly crossed over the area through the 7 o'clock hour, Cranford said.
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