Scott Lovell was in his barn, feeding the cows Tuesday evening, when he heard thunder and felt lightning strike.
“It felt like it went right through me, so I knew it (the strike) was close,” Lovell said. “I hadn’t even been in the barn 15 minutes.”
He had just finished mowing one of his pastures.
Lovell next caught the scent of burning pine in the air and quickly investigated the barn to make sure it and its contents weren’t burning.
At the same time, his wife, Rhonda, who was in the house at the time of the strike, checked the attic for signs of the lightning strike. Neither husband nor wife were successful in finding the source until the next morning.
“I was in the milkhouse and saw something in the pasture,” said Lovell, referring to the pasture he had just mowed the night before.
He grabbed his binoculars and saw debris in the field, then noticed his cattle in the lower pasture were wandering into the nearby woods.
“I thought a tree must have knocked out the wire,” Lovell said.
When he went into the pasture, Lovell saw more debris spread around and found a tree in the nearby woods missing bark down the length of its trunk. Its limbs near the lightning strike area on the ground were obliterated and had fallen on the ground. A nearby hemlock also was topped, and limbs that fell off the tree had burn marks diagonally through the peeled wood.
The electric fence also sustained damage, with some of the wire near the strike zone missing its temper, and white burn marks on the angle iron fence posts.
“I’ve seen lightning hit a tree before, but I’ve never seen it blow everything to pieces like that,” Lovell said.
According to Craig Evanego, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in State College, Tuesday night’s storm damage was widespread. Most of the damage was reported south of Williamsport, although there were reports of “vivid lightning” in the area with “some impressive strikes.”
There’s no doubt the start of summer is living up to its billing, as humid air arrived and the rate of afternoon thunderstorms, some containing hail and lightning and strong gusting winds that have done property damage and caused temporary outages, is at a rapid-fire pace.
Over the course of the next few days, conditions don’t seem to improve. Each day, the chance of an afternoon thunderstorm is likely and some showers could wash out outdoor activities, according to the weather service.
The rate of storms passing by has to do with high pressure in the south blocked by the path of the systems sweeping east to west, according to Elyse Colbert, a National Weather Service meteorologist. It seems as though once one storm is over, another pops up because the state is on the northern edge of the system.
Even with the amount of rain that has fallen, the city and region remain in a slight rain deficit for the month and year. As of midnight Wednesday, 3.1 inches of rain had fallen for the month,. The normal value is 3.27 inches, she said.
“We’re slightly below, but that is not counting today’s rainfall,” Colbert said.
The same deficit applies for the year to date, with the region 2.51 inches below normal, she said.
For those planning outdoor activities, taking precautions when storms arrive is a must. Today’s high temperature isn’t blistering – it’s expected to be 80 degrees – with new rainfall amounts less than 0.10-inch, unless there are thunderstorms that can raise that level quickly.
Tonight, the region can expect more showers and thunderstorms popping up before 2 a.m., then a chance of showers into the early morning. Friday also looks as though there is a chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 2 p.m., but highs reaching 77 degrees.
It won’t clear up Friday night, with a chance of showers to continue and a low of about 63. New precipitation amounts of less than 0.10-inch are possible.
Saturday and Sunday’s forecast doesn’t deviate, either, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms each day. Saturday should be partly sunny, with a high near 79 and the chance of precipitation is 50 percent. That night also includes a chance of showers, with a low of 62.
Sunday almost is a repeat of Saturday, with a high near 79 and a 50-percent chance of rain.