According to the National Weather Service, there are roughly 25 million lightning flashes in the United States every year.
William Bryce Fricke never expected to encounter one of those 25 million flashes firsthand.
"It was before the start of my junior year in college, the first night in my new apartment," said Fricke. "I was awoken by thunder and knew there was a pretty strong storm moving through the area."
Fricke was studying to be an engineer, and he knew the dangers of operating electronic devices during severe weather. Startled by the storm, he left his bed to shut down his computer, potentially saving it. The intended and actual result turned out to be two quite different things.
"The instant I touched the mouse, there was a bright flash and I felt a strong jolt going from my right hand, all the way through my right foot," said Fricke.
What exactly had happened to cause this surge of power? You could call it bad timing.
"Lighting had struck my small apartment building at the exact moment I had tried to use my computer," added Fricke. "I laid there shaking for a few minutes although I really can't say for sure if it was due to the electrical shock or the rush of adrenaline."
Fricke spent the next several moments in a daze, unsure of the best course of action. His first instinct, rather than to call for medical assistance, was to call his mother.
"Feeling nothing was seriously wrong, I called my mom to say 'Guess what just happened,'" said Fricke. She was a bit more concerned about the situation than I, so we called the apartment office who, in turn, called the paramedics."
Paramedics quickly arrived at Fricke's apartment and checked his vital signs. Besides some redness on his right hand and foot as well as some tingling and an accelerated heart rate, he was fine.
As lightning passes through air, it can heat the air to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit: about 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun, according to the National Weather Service.
"I later learned that when the apartment staff went to investigate the damage to the building, they found a basketball-sized hole in the roof and a lot of fried electronics," said Fricke.
Luckily, Fricke had escaped unscathed as had his computer. His mouse, unfortunately, did not.
Fricke did not require hospitalization and has had no long term effects from the lightning strike, but he did say he's much more careful during storms.
"I was lucky not to have taken a more direct strike," added Fricke.
While Fricke suffered quite a shock brought on by bad timing, the damage could have been much worse.
From 2001 to 2010 there were 390 deaths caused by lightning, according to the National Weather Service. So far, there have been five deaths in 2011.
Learn more about how to reduce the shock of a home lightning strike.
Tropical Depression Two has formed in the Atlantic and could become the next tropical storm of the season by midweek.
Warm and humid air in place over much of the Northeast at midweek will contribute to the risk of drenching, gusty and locally severe thunderstorms on Wednesday.
After temperatures briefly climb to typical midsummer levels, another cooldown will roll into the Midwest and expand to the East for the last part of July.
With the recent heat fading away, more relief will greet the Northwest by midweek in the form of rain.
After pounding Taiwan, Typhoon Matmo is now bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to eastern China.
Mid-Atlantic Ocean (1788)
(22nd-24th) George Washington Hurricane; After causing ship disasters off SW Bermuda, the storm moved NW over Tidewater, NC and VA to pass right over George Washington's Mt. Vernon plantation. On July 24th, George Washington wrote in his diary: "About noon the wind suddenly shifted from NE to SW and blew the remaining part of the day violently from that quarter. The tide this time rose near higher than it was ever known to do, driving boats, etc. into fields, where no tide had ever been heard of before, and most, it is apprehended, having done infinite damage on their wharves at Alexandria, Norfolk, Baltimore, etc. At home all day."
Canton, IL (1975)
A tornado ripped through a 3-block section of downtown, killing 2 people, injuring 75 and creating $5 million damage. A 15-foot wooden plank was driven through an auto engine block, splitting the front of the car in two. The woman driving was not injured. National Guardsmen were called in to prevent looting.
Columbus, OH (1979)
This is the first year in 101 years of record keeping at Columbus in which the temperature has not reached 90 degrees by July 23rd.