Sometimes the weather comes to us

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 6/14/19

Randall RIGSBEE

Randall Reflects

Randall RIGSBEE

Randall Reflects

We take precautions against weather in order to mitigate, to the extent that we can, its impact on us.

Examples …

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Sometimes the weather comes to us

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Posted

Randall RIGSBEE

Randall Reflects

Randall RIGSBEE

Randall Reflects

We take precautions against weather in order to mitigate, to the extent that we can, its impact on us.

Examples abound: Our cars are equipped with windshield wipers and defrosters. We build our homes with pitched roofs so rainwater slides off instead of accumulating. As weather dictates, we don raincoats and umbrellas; and if we don’t, most of us don’t dawdle outside getting soaked, dancing and singing and splashing in puddles a la the famous hoofer Gene Kelly. Normally we run for cover.

Entire industries — just think Ice Melt — have been built around the principle of minimizing the impacts of weather.

Despite our best efforts to avoid some weather encounters, whether we want it to or not, sometimes the weather comes to us.

That’s what happened to Omelia Beck, a longtime reader of the newspaper who called last week to share with us something that happened to her a couple of weeks ago.

Mrs. Beck, who is 85, likely wasn’t much concerned about the weather as she relaxed in her recliner on what was, so far, a normal afternoon in Siler City. In the distance, a thunderstorm could be heard rumbling, but it didn’t seem close enough to take notice or cause worry. She was watching television. It was still daylight.

Then something odd and unexpected happened.

Accompanied by a loud boom, but without causing damage to property, what she described as a “ball of lightning” appeared in Mrs. Beck’s living room and hung for a moment in the air, unnervingly close to where she sat. Had she been standing instead of sitting, she said, it’s likely she would have made unwelcome contact with the orb she said was “the size of a basketball, with red and bluish colors.”

The circular mass of electricity hovered in mid-air and glowed for a moment before suddenly, silently disappearing.

“It stayed there just about the time it would take for me to blink my eyes,” she said, “and then it was gone.”

Fellow residents at the senior independent living facility where Mrs. Beck lives confirmed hearing the loud noise, she said; and the residential facility temporarily lost power, a back-up generator kicking into action.

A few minutes later, power was restored and the afternoon returned to normal, no thunderstorm ever developing.

But the unusual close encounter left Mrs. Beck understandably shaken. After all, weather outdoors is one thing. Having it our living rooms is entirely another.

Curious about the phenomenon, she later researched it online, determining she’d encountered “ball lightning,” a phenomenon about which scientists have been able to learn very little, despite numerous reports of the phenomenon over centuries.

Wikipedia’s entry on ball lightning calls it an “unexplained and potentially dangerous atmospheric electrical phenomenon” and notes that “owing to inconsistencies and to the lack of reliable data, the true nature of ball lightning remains unknown.”

But of one thing, Mrs. Beck said she is certain: “God showed me His power,” she said, “and then he showed me His protection.”

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