'Explosive' lightning destroys water line, large tree
Denham Springs, LA (NBC33) — Residents of the Tranquility Lakes subdivision remained in awe more than 24 hours after a lightning bolt destroyed a tree, broke a water line, and forced a boil water order.
"It wasn't where I could see the sparks and the, you know how lightning makes a cracking sound," said Donald Ott. "This was more like a full, just a jar that hit the ground, just big time. You know, like a bomb."
Neighbors who live half a mile away said they could feel the impact through the ground.
"It was an explosion, and it run all the roots in the tree and tore some of them out of the ground," Ott said. "And it tore the main water system out, water main out, and splintered it."
That broken water main forced the St. Helena Parish Water Works to issue a boil advisory, which lasted until early Wednesday afternoon.
But Ott and other people who live near the strike site were more concerned, and amazed, by the strength of the explosion.
"It blew parts of the tree as far as 250 yards," Ott said. "Big pieces that weigh as much as 150-200 pounds."
But StormTracker33 Chief Meteorologist Jesse Gunkel said this was just another example of how powerful lightning is.
"One lightning strike could power your house for an entire week," he explained. "It's usually about, to give you an idea, it's (equivalent to) powering 150 million light bulbs at once."
Ott said this was a bolt he will never forget.
"You know, I'm 70," he said. "But I've seen lots of lightning strikes. I'm in the country, but I never seen one hit like this."