Every once in awhile, nature confronts us with a spectacle that stops us in our tracks as we stare at the wonder before our eyes with a mix of awe, inspiration, and fear. Such a spectacle appeared in Western Washington last weekend in the form of massive thunderstorms. Thunderstorms in this area typically consist of a few flashes of lightning along with the accompanying booms of thunder before the storms move on or dissipate altogether. This was not the case on Friday night, as constant flashes of blinding lightning filled the skies for hours.
From my second-story balcony, I could see the dark night sky flashing in the distance, to the south and east, with lightning strikes so numerous that it would have been impossible to count them. When I first saw the lightning, the storms were so far away that the thunder could not be heard yet. Watching the storm as it approached from the south, I couldn't help but feel slightly disconcerted at the sight of the ominous and silent storm that every few moments lit up the sky with twisting forks of lightning--making the earth below bright as daylight for a brief second before plunging into darkness once again. The raw power of nature on display was incredible. I didn't have a good enough vantage point to take photos of the storm, but luckily there were many people who did!
Photo Credit: Anthony May Photography, via komonews.com
Natural spectacles such as the thunderstorm we experienced last week are a humbling reminder that for all of our knowledge and technology, humans are still at the mercy of nature. We may be able to extract fossil fuels from every corner of the earth, burn them and warm our planet to unprecedented temperatures, and by the same process we may be able to melt all of the summer ice in the Arctic; we may be able to produce materials that will long outlast our existence on this planet; we may be able to clear-cut forests and level mountaintops; but humans cannot stop a thunderstorm. We cannot stop a hurricane. Or a tornado. When we stand in the path of these storms and natural disasters, we are completely at their mercy. Despite all of our effects on this planet- positive or negative - nature will still have the last word. Depending upon how you look at it, that could either be a comforting or frightening thought... I'll let you decide!