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Every couple of decades, a lightning strike reaches the ground in Westmoreland -- as in June

WILLIAM A. HENDERSON - This is the photo of the fallen tree limb blocking S.E. 20th, north of Bybee in Westmoreland, after the thunderstorm in the 6 p.m. hour of Thursday, June 27. The limb fell across utility wires on the way down. Thunderstorms occur only occasionally in this part of the country, and more often than not the lightning is the cloud-to-cloud type, rather than cloud-to-ground. But in the 6 p.m. hour of Thursday, June 27, an intense thunderstorm rolled through Inner Southeast Portland, dumping heavy rain briefly. THE BEE recorded .39 inch of rain in just a few minutes as the storm went through, and another .49 inch over the following overnight hours.

But when one of the many lightning flashes was followed by a clap of thunder less than two seconds later at the BEE office in Westmoreland, we knew there has been a strike, and that it was very close – probably within 1,600 feet of our location; and we reflected then that the last actual strike in Westmoreland had been about 18 years earlier – it had scarred the asphalt in the street, and caused substantial damage to a house, on S.E. 20th Avenue, just south of Knight Street.

The following morning we received a photo from Attorney William A. Henderson showing a substantial tree limb down across S.E. 20th, a bit north of Tolman Street, as a result of the storm the night before.

It seemed to us that although there had been wind gusts during the thunderstorm, none of them had seemed strong enough to tear a big limb off a tree – so we suggested to Henderson he more closely examine the limb to see if it showed any indication of burn marks.

WILLIAM A. HENDERSON - Heres a close-up of the end of the broken limb, showing burn marks suggestive of the lighting strike having blown the limb from the tree out into the street.   Bingo. Burn marks at the base of the limb. It appears the tree had been struck by lightning! He sent a second close-up of that, and added that his son Joey had been inside the Henderson house, across the street from the tree, and he'd reported "a loud bang, followed by additional bangs that lasted for about 30 seconds."

With thanks to Mr. Henderson for the photos, we remind you that if you see a lightning flash, and if the resulting thunder is heard within 15 seconds of the flash – that lightning was less than three miles away, and you are in danger and had better get inside fast!


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