Texas man captures his terrifying close encounter with Mother Nature
Justin Howard was admiring a tree in his yard in Houston, Texas, when a lightning struck it amid a thunderstorm on Aug. 5.
For a former pro fighter in Houston, Mother Nature delivered a punch on Tuesday unlike any blow he ever received inside a ring.
As Justin Howard stood on his porch filming and admiring the 50-foot-tall pine tree in his front yard that was surviving the heavy rain and wind, a bolt of lightning struck that same tree, splitting it in half and knocking off branches.
Justin Howard was standing on his porch filming this 50-foot-tall pine sustaining Tuesday's thunderstorms until lightning struck. (ABC News)
“I was a pro fighter for years, and I feel like I just had a really hard sparring match,” Howard said, according to ABC News. “Like my bones are achy; I feel just a little punch drunk.”
“The crazy thing, I got it on camera!” Howard said.
Footage from the incident shows lightning striking the tree trunk, sending debris flying and Howard scurrying.
Justin Howard captured the dangerously close call, posting the video to Facebook. (ABC News)
Howard referred to the incident as "the scariest and most amazing thing I’ve ever seen" in a Facebook update under his initial video post. "I thought it was coming for me, INSANE!" He added that he was left covered in bark after the dangerously close call.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck said a few factors played into the recipe of fueling the afternoon thunderstorms that nearly caused serious bodily harm for Howard.
“On Tuesday, there was a stalled frontal boundary to the north of Houston and a weak upper-level disturbance crossing eastern Texas. These, combined with daytime heating and humid air already in place, caused thunderstorms with cloud-to-ground lightning to develop to the north of the city in the afternoon,” Smerbeck said. “They tracked southward across eastern Harris County and over Atascocita late in the afternoon.”
On Wednesday, Howard posted another video to his Facebook of the video he sent to his tree service worker. The pine was still standing after the close call, albeit with far less bark and not enough reliable structure to be left in the front yard.
Howard wasn't injured in the storm, but the incident clearly left him shaken up.
Lightning safety experts urge people to seek shelter indoors when the first rumble of thunder is heard and to stay inside for at least 30 minutes afterward. Taking shelter under open structures, like under a pavilion or gazebo, is not considered safe, although a fully-enclosed, hard-top vehicle is a safe alternative, National Lightning Safety Council expert John Jensenius told AccuWeather. Standing under a tree or a similar tall object is not advised as lightning often strikes the tallest object around.
“It was the craziest, weirdest feeling I’ve ever felt,” Howard said.
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