Lightning scorches car during thunderstorm in Iowa Colony, driver OK

IOWA COLONY, Texas (KTRK) -- The aftermath of a lightning strike left firefighters and a driver amazed in Brazoria County.

The Iowa Colony Volunteer Fire Department shared photos on its Facebook page of a scorched Lexus after lightning hit the car during thunderstorms in the area at about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The fire department said that a driver was on Highway 288 northbound around CR 63 when lightning hit the top of the car, traveled through the antenna, down through the rear driver rim, and blew a hole in the road. The strike even caused the side curtain airbag to deploy.

In the Facebook comments, Iowa Colony VFD noted that the strike also shook their fire station, which appears to be less than a mile away from where the driver was.

The driver is OK.

But as seen in photos, the car did not fare so well.

The National Weather Service has a breakdown of what can happen when it comes to cloud-to-ground, or in this case, cloud-to-vehicle, lightning strikes.

Will the rubber tires on your car protect you if you are outside the car and leaning on it?

Negative, ghost rider. Anything outside - trees, houses, cars, and yes, YOU - are all at risk of being struck by lightning when thunderstorms are moving through an area.

But it's not all bad news. There is a way you can be protected while you're in your car.

The outer metal shell of hard-topped metal vehicles does provide protection to those who are inside with the windows closed.

What happens to the car when the lightning strikes?

Lightning strikes either hit the antenna of the vehicle or along the roofline, passing through the vehicle's outer metal shell, then through the tires to the ground.

Sorry, but not even your souped-up Charger has a chance of surviving that.

The most common type of damage is to the antenna, electrical system, rear windshield and tires.

  • Antenna: The heat from the lightning strike is enough to partially melt the antenna.
  • Electrical system: A portion of the discharge could get into the electrical system and may damage or destroy electronic components, leaving the car inoperable.
  • Windows: If lightning makes its way into the small defrosting wires embedded in the rear windows of the car, the windows can shatter.
  • Tires: Lightning can destroy one or more tires when it passes through the steel belts to the ground.

In a worst-case scenario for the vehicle, lightning can start a fire, and destroy it.
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