Lori Docherty was on her porch making a video of a thunderstorm when it got too close for comfort.
A bolt of lightning struck the TV tower for Docherty’s house near Stettler at about 9:50 p.m. on Saturday.
The monumental crack — followed by a 12-foot spray of orange sparks from the antenna — was caught by Docherty on video. The ear-splitting noise literally caused her to jump, shaking her phone recording.
“Holy… that hit the house! That hit the house!” said Docherty.
She’s relieved that no one was hurt as her teenage son was only about six feet away from the TV tower, looking out the side window of their bungalow when the strike happened.
Docherty, who’s always loved storms, now feels rattled by them. She’s worried about how she will react the next time she hears thunder and sees lightning outside.
“That scared the crap out of me,” admits the retail clerk, who’s still assessing the damage to her rural residence, about eight kilometres northeast of Stettler.
Visible signs of the lightning strike include burn marks around a power outlet and a toonie-sized burn on her carpet.
Docherty also discovered that a variety of electronics and appliances no longer work, including computer games, her TV, fridge and phone connected to the land line.
“I’m going to need an electrician to come out and check for more damage,” she said.
Severe thunderstorms are a sign of summer in central Alberta. And they have become something of a sideline for Alix-based couple Darlene and Theresa Tanner, whose storm-chasing photos and calendars are sold to fans around the world.
While the Stettler thunderstorm on Saturday was too soaked in daylight to make for overly dramatic photos, the Tanners’ picture of a lightning bolt flashing over a clapboard church near Ponoka is one of their more spectacular photos from this summer.
Another powerful photograph shows a menacing supercell above a fire hall in Munson, north of Drumheller.
While the Tanners spend most nights chasing storms to Calgary and beyond, they are careful about not getting caught by the high winds, lightning and hail.
“We try to stay ahead of the storm… we try to stay right on the edge of it, ” said Darlene.
Most photographs are taken from inside their car, with the window or door opened.
“To stand right our there with our tripod would be… foolish,” she admits, with a chuckle.
Among the Tanners’ more hair-raising recent experiences was a June 13 storm they chased from Red Deer to Hanna.
“The wind was so bad, it was hard to get the door open to take a picture… and there was a really nice rotating supercell. It was huge,” recalls Darlene who, with Theresa, always plans a route away from a storm — just in case.
While the Tanners scan Environment Canada’s storm maps as soon as they wake up each morning, they feel this season hasn’t yielded as many impressive squalls as the past few summers.
Mostly, there’s been a threat of tempests, but the conditions have quickly dissipated, said Darlene.
Still, it’s only halfway through July, leaving several more weeks of storm chasing. After that, the Tanners will be bound for Iceland to photograph the northern lights.
For more information, check out their #teamtanner Facebook page.