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Lightning sends chunk of road through truck windscreen

Ben Domensino, Thursday May 13, 2021 - 20:09 EST

The odds of being struck by lightning in the United States are about 1 in 1.2 million during any given year.

But what about being in a car that's hit by a piece of road that was blasted into the air by lightning?

It seems incomprehensibly unlikely. However, this is exactly what happened in Florida earlier this week.

Shortly after 7:30am on Monday, the Walton Country Fire Rescue was called out to a traffic accident on the Interstate-10 highway in northern Florida.

Upon arriving at the scene, they found a truck with a gaping hole in its front windscreen, no rear windscreen and big chunks of asphalt strewn across the lid of its cargo bed.

Images: The damaged vehicle, showing smashed windows and bits of road strewn across the back of the truck. Source: Walton County Fire Rescue

According to a Facebook post from Walton County Fire Rescue, the freak accident occurred when "lightning struck the roadway, causing a chunk of the road to fly through the windshield of the truck."

So how did a lightning strike send a piece of road flying through the air?

Chris Vagasky, a US Meteorologist with Vaisala, told the Washington Post that it most likely occurred when a positive cloud-to-ground lightning strike caused water inside or beneath the road's surface to vapourise instantly.

"That rapid expansion of liquid water into steam can be why trees debark if they are struck by lightning, and it caused damage to other inanimate objects in the past," he said. Vagasky also pointed out that lightning damage to roads and airport runways is a well-known phenomenon.

The two passengers that were in the vehicle at the time of the incident were treated for injuries and are expected to make a full recovery.

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