Science

Lightning bolt blows up a tree in perfectly-timed photo 

Gigantic lightning bolt strikes the side of a mountain in New Mexico and blows up a TREE ‘into a million pieces’ in perfectly-timed photo

  • US hiker managed to capture the dramatic photo thanks to ‘luck and right timing’
  • It shows a hillside in Pecos, New Mexico being zapped by the jet of lightning
  • The blast during heavy rain was so immense that it ‘only left the trunk of the tree’ 

A US hiker has perfectly captured an amazing photo of a gigantic lightning bolt striking a mountainside.

The perfectly-timed photo was taken by Phil Garcia, while out hiking with his friends in Pecos, New Mexico. 

Garcia, 28, who works at a ski resort in Santa Fe, only managed to grab one shot of the purple-tinted bolt during adverse weather. 

It was so immense that it destroyed a tree in the process, leaving only its trunk.

This incredible image captures a gigantic lightning bolt as it strikes the side of a mountain. The wild photo was taken last June by Phil Garcia, while out hiking with his friends in Pecos, New Mexico

This incredible image captures a gigantic lightning bolt as it strikes the side of a mountain. The wild photo was taken last June by Phil Garcia, while out hiking with his friends in Pecos, New Mexico

‘We were hiking up in the back trails when we saw one pop off right before that one so I pulled out my camera,’ Garcia said. 

‘The sound – it was wild. We were kind of worried, so we got out of there pretty quick.

‘You could feel the energy. It blew the tree into what had to be a million pieces – all that was left was the trunk. It was just smouldering.’ 

Garcia took the picture last June but has only just posted it to a New Mexico community group on Facebook.

The bolt of lightning can be seen piercing through the sky and igniting the trees on the hillside

The bolt of lightning can be seen piercing through the sky and igniting the trees on the hillside

 The bolt of lightning can be seen piercing through the sky and igniting the trees on the hillside

He called the blast ‘deafening’ and said the picture was a combination of ‘pure luck and right timing’.  

‘It was raining so hard it put it out. It was super loud wish I had a video of it,’ he said.  

‘I was only 400 yards away from it – my ears rang for about five hours after.’

Lightning occurs when strong upward drafts in the air generate static electricity in large and dense rainstorm clouds.

Parts of the cloud become positively charged and others negatively charged.

When this charge separation is large enough a violent discharge of electricity happens – also known as lightning.  

Lightning can be beautiful and awe-inspiring, as well as fatal. 

Between 1982 and 2011 an average of 54 Americans died a year as a result of lightning strikes. 

In the UK, 58 people were known to have been killed by lightning between 1987 and 2016) – on average, two people per year, according to researchers.  

Purple haze: Incredible moment sky changes colour as lightning bolt strikes above erupting Mount Sinabung volcano in Indonesia 

Mount Sinabung in Karo, North Sumatra, erupted with hot ash climbing 16,400ft into the sky and volcanic debris depositing on nearby villages

Mount Sinabung in Karo, North Sumatra, erupted with hot ash climbing 16,400ft into the sky and volcanic debris depositing on nearby villages

Mount Sinabung in Karo, North Sumatra, erupted with hot ash climbing 16,400ft into the sky and volcanic debris depositing on nearby villages

The sky above an erupting volcano in Indonesia turned a stunning electric purple during a lightning storm in early March 2021.

Spectacular images captured the spectacle as Mount Sinabung in Karo, North Sumatra, spewed a column of ash and smoke up to 16,400ft (5km) into the sky as lightning bolts crackled above.

The purple skies – which can be caused by the scattering of white light due to moisture, haze and dust in the air – were captured by photographers on Friday using long exposures. 

Sinabung, a 8,530-feet-tall volcano, had been dormant for centuries but has come back to life with regular, deadly eruptions over the past ten years.

Two people were killed in the first in 2010, before 16 people died in an eruption in 2014. Seven more perished two years later.

The eruption on March 2, 2021 did not claim any victims, but Muhammad Nurul Asrori, a monitoring officer at Sinabung, said the plume of smoke and ash was the largest he had seen since 2010. 

Read more: Lightning bolts strike above erupting volcano illuminating sky purple


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