lightning strike

‘Bolt From the Blue' Strikes Palm Tree in Florida

Lightning is common during thunderstorms, but what about in seemingly clear, blue skies?

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A camera inside a Florida man's truck captured a bolt of lightning striking a nearby palm tree – and it wasn’t even raining.

Jonathan Moore was working Monday afternoon in Lutz, a suburb of Tampa, when the lightning bolt struck a tree about 75-feet away. A loud boom can be heard in the video moments before the strike, which caused a single limb to fall.

Meteorologists said storms were in the forecast, but skies were blue at the time of the strike.

Lightning is common during thunderstorms, but what about in seemingly clear, blue skies?

Experts call this occurrence a “bolt from the blue.”

According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, a bolt from the blue is a flash from the side of thunderstorm clouds that travels a relatively long distance into the clear skies, and then angles down before striking the ground. These lightening flashes can travel several miles away from the thunderstorm.

Moore said he took the incident as an opportunity to warn others to always be on alert.

The central Florida peninsula from Tampa Bay to Cape Canaveral has the highest lightning concentration in the U.S, according to the National Weather Service. More than 90% of the lightning in this region occurs between May and October, during the hours of noon and midnight.

In 2019, 27 people were killed by lightning in the U.S. and another 243 were injured, according to NWS. This year, so far, a dozen people suffered fatal lightning strikes. Still, the odds of being struck by a lightning bolt in a given year is one in 1,222,000. By comparison, the odds of winning the lottery is one in 175,000,000.

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