Natural Sightings: Fireworks in the night | Lifestyle

Kiya Richardson took this photo of lightning in Tehachapi during our recent rare June thunderstorm that arrived around 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 21.


Tehachapi residents were awakened in the night by the booming, explosive sounds of thunder by a very active storm. Although summer thunderstorms often produce what is called “dry lightning,” meaning lightning strikes unaccompanied by rain, fortunately last week’s storm did bring about one-third of an inch of rain with it, which meant that there weren’t any wildfires that broke out as a result of lightning strikes into dry vegetation.

The electrical grid was not as fortunate, and there were reports of as many as six transformers on power poles that were struck by lightning, resulting in scattered power outages that lasted into the afternoon in some areas. Hard-working utility crews were able to restore power within hours, however.

Thunder results when lightning causes air to heat up and expand, and then cool very rapidly. The air in a lightning channel can briefly get incredibly hot — it may reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Sound travels relatively slowly, taking about 5 seconds to cover a mile. So when you see a lightning flash nearby, immediately start counting “One-thousand one, one-thousand two, one-thousand three. . .”

If you reach the count of five, the lightning strike was about a mile away, if you reach 10 then it was two miles away, etc.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) word for lightning is agazin’orü, pronounced ah-gah-zee-NUH-or-uh, and the word for thunder is tazano’orü, pronounced tah-zah-NUH-or-uh.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to:

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