Lightning Stories

June 12, 2004

Here are two stories for the archives....

Sometime in 1995 when I was living on Orange Ave in Costa Mesa with Ryan and Mike, I witnessed a great lightning storm.

It was around 9 or 10PM at the end of a mostly normal, warm, clear Orange County day. I can't remember exactly how we first noticed it -- I think I was coming home from school or work when I saw it -- but I recall seeing a flurry of lightning activity far in the distance, in the direction of the ocean. This lightning didn't let up -- it was continuous.

We lived on the 2nd (top) floor of a little apartment building, so we got up on the roof of our place to watch it. We were up there for fifteen minutes at least just watching this clump of continuous lightning when we decided to go find it.

We drove down the 55 freeway to Newport, then turned north up PCH. There was just this clump of clouds just off the coast that was just going nuts with lightning. We found a place to park near the sand, and went out onto the beach to watch this thing.

We sat there for a long, long time just watching this amazing show. There was a lightning strike at least every second, many times several at once. It was silent too -- there was an offshore breeze, which may have contributed to the lack of noise.

After an hour, we decided to go home. The lightning cloud had disapated a bit, and we thought it may be drifting toward us, so we figured it was time to go home.

The other amazing lightning experience I had happened more recently. Arti, my parents, and I went down to Moss Landing an evening in November 2003 to do a "Full Moon Kayak" excursion.

There are a few Kayak shops in the Moss Landing area, and several offer nighttime trips when the full moon provides enough light to navigate. I had done a similar trip in 1999 or 2000 with Mona and Musty in Santa Cruz, so I was excited to have another chance to be out on the water at night.

We paddled out from the harbor at sunset, and slowly made our way out to the estuary as nighttime made its own slow way over us. An hour or so later we were deep in the estuary, surrounded by birds, fish, and the occasional sea otter poking its head up out of the water.

Looking east, there were some clouds building up near the hills in the distance. From the shape of the clouds, it seemed that there was a pretty good wind blowing out there. There were a couple of occasional lightning strikes as we were paddling out. Most were pretty dim, others were bright.

This built up slowly over the course of a half hour or so into an interesting, sometimes continuous show.

It was a great experience to be in a little boat, sitting on the surface of the smooth water, not a sound to be heard except for the sporadic calls of nighttime shorebirds, watching this visually amazing nature show in the distance reflecting off the water's surface.