Felled In A Flash of Lightning
Posted on 08.29.16 by Danny Glover @ 5:16 pm

One of the most interesting yet tragic stories in the news today happened in Norway, where government wildlife officials found more than 300 dead reindeer on the top of a mountain. Here’s the story as told by NPR:

The Norwegian government says 323 reindeer were apparently struck by lightning last week and died. The animals lived on a mountain plateau in central Norway called the Hardangervidda. The rugged alpine landscape is (usually) a good place for a reindeer — delicious lichens grow on exposed rocks, and the area is protected from development because it falls within a national park.

The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate wrote in a press release that officials discovered a field of carcasses on Friday while they were supervising hunters in the area. The agency estimates about 2,000 reindeer live on the plateau each year. Now, about one-sixth of them are dead, including at least 70 calves.

This catastrophe is interesting in its own right because it raises all kinds of questions in people’s minds. But it was even more compelling to me because it reminded me of another incident in West Virginia on July 2, 1990.

I have a notoriously bad memory, so the fact that I can recall a news story from 26 years ago, one that I didn’t even report myself, should tell you something. This story also involved a lightning strike — but the victims were amateur archers who took shelter under a pavilion during a pop-up thunderstorm. Twenty-four of them ended up injured.

I was a reporter at the Dominion Post in Morgantown at the time, but my beat was covering city, state and federal government and political campaigns. Plus the incident happened on a Sunday, when I wasn’t working. But I remember being enthralled by the story upon reading the details when I got to the newsroom the next day.

The reindeer story triggered that memory, so to get the details, I reached out to the Aull Center, a branch of the Morgantown Public Library System that has old copies of the Dominion Post on microfilm. Librarian Gary Friggens was kind enough to look up the front-page story and send me an electronic copy.

“Victims had been tossed into the air and suffered burns, cuts, contusions and internal injuries,” one of the three stories said.

One father said the lightning strike lifted his son off the ground and knocked him 10-15 feet away. He lost his hearing for a few minutes and heard only the groaning and moaning around him when his hearing returned. Another victim, whose heart stopped temporarily, lost feeling in his legs and had burns on his chest.

“All I could see were blue streaks all around us,” said one victim from the Kingwood Pike Coon Hunters Club. “We were all so close together under there that we were touching shoulders. The lightning just passed right through us. I remember the blue streaks, then everything went black.”

A year later, Keith Dalton recounted his experience that day as part of a broader AP story about people who have been struck by lightning:

“I was hanging from a beam when the next thing I knew the lightning picked up my feet and pulled me up toward the roof,” says Dalton, a 24-year-old welder from Morgantown. “It was all lit up,” he says. “It looked like a spark plug coming off the roof and going through everybody’s heads. Everyone had blue sparks coming from them. It was really something to see.”

After the strike, Dalton thought his companions, most of whom lay moaning on the ground, were dead. “It seemed to take a long time, but it was really only a second,” Dalton says. “One guy was choking on his chewing tobacco and turned black.”

All 24 lived. Only one was admitted to a hospital overnight for observation. “It kind of felt like you were in a microwave,” Dalton says. “You got real warm inside. All I wanted to do was drink water afterward.”

Nightmare scenarios like that, along with tales of golfers being struck by lightning and childhood memories of being stuck outside and by myself during thunderstorms, are the reason I am terrified of lightning to this day.

My storm-watching wife loves to tell people about the time, on our honeymoon no less, that I abandoned her because of my fear of lightning. We were in the parking lot at an Outback Steakhouse in Asheville, N.C. A bright light flashed in the sky, a ground-shaking boom followed, and I high-tailed it to the restaurant without her.

To this day, she insists that I jumped so high and bolted so quickly, I looked like Wile E. Coyote running on the air. I think she embellishes the story a little more each time she tells it, but I can’t dispute the basic facts. My terror, which I’ve unfortunately passed along to our youngest child, is that great.

Now my daughter and I have the memory of 323 dead deer to add to our anxiety.

Filed under: History and Human Interest and Media and News & Politics and Weather and West Virginia and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

A Rant From Inside The Box
Posted on 06.11.14 by Danny Glover @ 7:49 pm

Every evening on Fox News’ “The Five,” the co-hosts close the show with quick rants and raves about the “One More Thing” on their minds. I say a hearty “Amen!” to Greg Gutfeld’s tirade tonight because he mocked the phrase “outside the box.”

I hate that phrase so much that I once wrote a local newspaper column called “Inside the Box.” This is the essay that started my own weekly rants:

Where The Weather Is ‘Fine As Frog’s Hair’
Originally published in the Prince William Journal, Jan. 28, 1998

By K. Daniel Glover

If we are to believe the managers of the world (you know, the boneheads who have made a rich man of “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams), there are two ways of thinking: “inside the box” and “outside the box.”

I do my thinking inside the box. I know that only because a former supervisor once told me during a review that if I wanted to move up the ladder within the company, I had to start thinking outside the box.

What does it all mean? I wish I knew. I think it has something to do with eating McPizza, drinking New Coke and dating the office intern, but I’m not quite sure. I left that company to take a job inside the box.

What I do know is this: If I think inside the box, the powers that be in the Prince William County school system definitely think outside the box. How do I know? Because they closed down the schools a couple of weeks ago on what The Washington Post later called “a pretty standard cold, wet day” and because I thought they were absolutely crazy for doing so.

But maybe I’m just nostalgic. I remember the stories my Grandpa Tumblebug told — of walking two miles to school each day, uphill both ways and through three feet of snow in sub-freezing temperatures — and I long for those days.

OK, Grandpa Tumblebug didn’t actually make that trek each ay, and he didn’t even tell me those stories. His real name isn’t Tumblebug, either. But that’s what I called him and he does tell some good stories — and he did live in an era when men stood tall in the face of bad weather.

People in those days — like the dedicated postmen who delivered their mail — saw rain, sleet, snow and hail not as an excuse to miss a day of school or work but as an obstacle to overcome.

Filed under: Business and Culture and Education and Family and Food and Government and History and Media and People and Weather and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Heart Of West Virginia
Posted on 08.31.12 by Danny Glover @ 12:58 pm

Earlier this week, West Virginia State Police Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey was killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop along the interstate. Another officer, Trooper Eric Michael Workman, was shot and is on life support. (Update: Workman died today after being taken off life support.)

The outpouring of compassion for state police since then has been remarkable. Almost immediately on Facebook, my West Virginia friends posted status updates about the shooting. Some asked people to pray for the dead and wounded, even the suspect who shot the two state policemen, a sheriff’s deputy and a truck driver who had arrived to tow the suspect’s victim. (The shooter, Luke Baber, was killed on scene.) Several shared this request:

RE-POST: If you have a U.S. flag, post it today in memory of the WV state troopers who were killed in the line of duty and in honor of all our police/fire/EMTs who put their lives on the line for us every day.

People in the state did not restrict their concern to heartfelt but easy Facebook comments, though. They took action offline as well. The generous gestures have included deliveries of Wendy’s sandwiches to the scene of the shooting, more deliveries of food trays and pizza to state police headquarters the day after the shooting, an impromptu donations for the families of the officers, and frequent phone calls from people asking how they can help.

“The generosity and the kindness we’ve been shown is just amazing,” said Sgt. Michael Baylous, the state police spokesman.

The response is typical for West Virginians, and it isn’t limited to public officials. My state family bestowed similar kindness on journalists in 2010 when they come to cover a coal-mining tragedy. “These people are extraordinary,” one journalist wrote of his experience.

Filed under: Media and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and Weather and West Virginia
Comments: None

Where’s My Tornado Helmet?
Posted on 04.30.12 by Danny Glover @ 6:41 am

If you live in Tornado Alley, you may want to find a sturdy helmet. It could save your life like 8-year-old Noah Stewart’s baseball helmet appears to have saved him:

[Jonathan Stewart had] rushed home just minutes before a tornado swallowed up his neighborhood in Pleasant Grove, Ala. Stewart, his wife, adult daughter and 8-year-old son crowded into a tiny shower stall. It didn’t take long for him to feel the house shift and become weightless — and then an explosion.

“I remember being sucked out of the house, and it was not being blown about, it was not walls blowing around. It was like a vacuum, and it sucked us out,” Stewart says. In an instant, Stewart’s family was gone. Lisa, his wife, peered up into the swirling sea of debris and saw her son, Noah, floating above her — high above her, Lisa says: “I actually saw him up in the air, stuck up in it, being tossed around as high as the power lines.”

Noah was twisting, churning, flying through the air, held up high by the tornado’s angry winds. And then, Noah remembers, “the wind just immediately stopped, and I was going down headfirst, and then I think my helmet just cracked.”

That anecdote from an NPR story about the potential for helmets to reduce tornado deaths fascinated me on many levels. As a parent, I pictured one of our children floating above us inside a tornado, and the thought of it horrified me. As a lilapsophobe in the making (fear of tornadoes and other severe weather), I imagined myself living through every aspect of the Stewarts’ ordeal and wanted to rush to the store to buy tornado helmets for our whole family.

And as an entrepreneurial spirit, I started dreaming of a hot new market for tornado helmets. If I would buy them, how many other people would do the same? Wearing helmets couldn’t possibly prevent all tornado deaths, but it’s common sense that it would give some people a better chance of surviving flying debris.

Filed under: Business and Family and Human Interest and News & Politics and People and Weather
Comments: None

What It Looks Like Inside A Tornado
Posted on 03.11.12 by Danny Glover @ 9:46 pm

Ever wonder what it looks like inside a real tornado — not the kind manufactured for the movie “Twister”? Now, thanks to home surveillance cameras outside one home in West Liberty, Ky., you can see for yourself:

Here’s the story behind the video:

It is a dramatic look at the tornado that hit one week ago today, unlike any we’ve seen before. The video shows the tornado as it took out homes in West Liberty. It was captured on a surveillance system that never turned off, and it recorded the entire disaster as it happened.

Filed under: News & Politics and Video and Weather
Comments: None

Bad News, Good News (In Pictures)
Posted on 10.27.11 by Danny Glover @ 9:18 am

One of the most common complaints about the media is that they emphasize bad news almost to the exclusion of good news. The truth of that critique was never more obvious than in yesterday’s “Pictures of the Day” on Lens, a New York Times blog about photography.

Readers were treated to a series of photo stories full of bad news, including:

  • Flooding in Bangkok;
  • Fiery protests by Yemeni women against their government;
  • Earthquake devastation in Turkey;
  • War in Afghanistan and Libya;
  • Physical fighting in Italy’s parliament;
  • The police crackdown on “Occupy” protesters in Atlanta;
  • And Palestinians rooting through the “garbage” of Jewish settlers on the West Bank.

The Times apparently prefers to front load its journalism with bad news and end on a happier note, though. The 12th picture of 13 featured a colorful image of a prayerful religious festival in Sri Lanka and then this gorgeous snapshot of a double rainbow over London.

Filed under: Human Interest and News & Politics and Photography and Weather
Comments: None

The I-95 Tornado In Virginia
Posted on 10.14.11 by Danny Glover @ 10:25 am

One of my many weather-related fears is being caught on the road (or on a commuter train, which is how I get to and from work these days) during a tornado. Several people in Virginia experienced that situation last night at about the time I headed home from work.

Here are videos of the small tornado and flying debris that crossed I-95 south of Quantico:

Filed under: News & Politics and Video and Weather
Comments: None

Vote Old Man Winter Out Of Season
Posted on 02.01.11 by Danny Glover @ 8:57 am

What do you get when you mix politics and weather? An “attack ad” against winter that rings true to me as I type from a New York hotel room with more winter weather on the way.

At this point, I’m not certain that my Amtrak train will take me back to the Washington, D.C., area tomorrow. Summer gets my vote, but the election won’t be soon enough.

Filed under: Just For Laughs and News & Politics and Video and Weather
Comments: None

The Life Of A Lighthouse
Posted on 10.14.10 by Danny Glover @ 12:30 pm

How would you like to live in a lighthouse? Sound romantic? Not so much. Watch this:

Filed under: Human Interest and Video and Weather
Comments: None

World’s Largest Igloo
Posted on 02.23.10 by Danny Glover @ 7:01 pm

It took two Green Bay, Wis., residents nine weeks to build the igloo, which is 17 feet, 4 inches tall and 27 feet, 4 inches in diameter. They broke the previous record in the “Guinness Book Of World Records,” which was 13 feet, 8 inches tall and 25 feet, 9 inches in diameter.

Filed under: Human Interest and News & Politics and Video and Weather
Comments: None

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