My main internet connection is still down and I have been very busy trying to scource replacements and claim insurance for essential security related electrical equipment that was put out of action by this lightning strike …
On the afternoon of January 25, 2016, the drought, which has been affecting Mutare and Eastern Zimbabwe for several weeks, broke in spectacular fashion with a violent thunderstorm, torrential rain and very strong winds. At 16:46 local time, there was a single extremely loud and very close lightning strike on my premises which was captured on video by a Panasonic Lumix TZ-10 compact camera which I had set up on a tripod on the front verandah overlooking Murambi suburb.
The blinding light and deafening whip-crack report from the lightning bolt were so intense that I was unable to hear or see anything for a while after diving to a crouch position. The 15-second interval between the lightning strike and my exclamation of astonishment, is how long it took to recover my vision, hearing, balance and composure!
The YouTube video clip, which is a short extract from an original recording 17 minutes long, has five sections which play back at four speeds – normal, 50%, 25%, 10% and normal again.
The strike did not cause structural damage to the house but burnt out thousands of dollars worth of electrical equipment despite installed voltage switches, regulators and surge protectors.
Fortunately, noone was injured even though some of the lightning entered an occupied kitchen in the domestic quarters through a closed window to find earth at the electric cooker power point.
Meanwhile, 150 millimeters of much-needed rain has fallen in the three days following the storm with more forecast to come.
Dr. Peter Lowenstein has contributed many beautiful and fascinating images and stories to EarthSky. Trained as a geochemist, he spent his early years with the Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea, specializing in metals and volcanoes. In 1989, he moved to the Zimbabwe Geological Survey as Chief Economic Geologist and has lived and worked in Zimbabwe ever since. Peter is now retired to Zimbabwe, in a house with a beautiful view in Murambi East, Mutare, where he pursues favorite hobbies including construction of electronic gadgets, listening to music, gardening, surfing the Internet ... and photography.