ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Storm chaser and respected scientist Tim Samaras was on a quest to document the birth of a lightning strike. How lightning bolts form is still a mystery. Each strike only lasts a fleeting 200 milliseconds. "Nightline" went lightning chasing with him in August 2012. Samaras was killed, along with his son Paul and their colleague Carl Young in June 2013 while chasing a tornado outbreak in Oklahoma.
    ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Photographer Carsten Peter tagged along with Tim Samaras in 2012 to capture the storm chaser at work for National Geographic. The story of their dangerous excursions in electrical storms in America's heartland appeared in the August 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine.
    National Geographic
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Photographer Carsten Peter's photos also appeared in the August edition of National Geographic magazine for iPad, available on the App Store. Tim Samaras shown here waiting for a wave of thunderstorms to form along Colorado's Front Range. He readied the 1,600-pound camera he called the Kahuna. A leftover from the Cold War, the camera was originally used to film above-ground nuclear tests.
    Copyright Carsten Peter
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Each lightning bolt is about five times hotter than the sun and kills an average of 54 people each year. Shown here, a ground fire ignited by a lightning storm near Elephant Butte, New Mexico, paints the horizon with brown smoke. At right, another cloud-to-ground strike flashes. Samaras wanted to capture the flash created when negative charges in the cloud meet positive charges on the ground.
    Copyright Carsten Peter
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    There are 25 million cloud-to-ground strikes each year in the United States and they can happen anywhere. Horizontal cloud-to-cloud lightning bolts, called anvil crawlers for their tendency to "crawl" along the bottom of anvil-shaped storm clouds, light up the sky near Greensburg, Kansas.
    Copyright Carsten Peter
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    On the highway with the Kahuna in tow, Tim Samaras is shown here hunting for the elusive shot in 2012. Although every thunderstorm is pregnant with that brilliant but deadly electrical force, we know surprisingly little about where and when lightning will strike.
    Copyright Carsten Peter
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    "Nightline" caught up with Tim Samaras in 2012 as he chased lightning across New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado. Samaras showed ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee the Kahuna, which can slow motion-capture at 1.4 million frames per second. Samaras first used the camera in 1980 when he worked as a technician at the University of Denver Research Institute and upgraded it to digital.
    ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Samaras hauled the Kahuna, now the fastest high-res camera in the world, inside a trailer he pulled behind his truck. The trailer was set up like a mobile lab so Samaras could analyze the trove of photos Kahuna captured out in the field.
    ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Like most storm chases, "Nightline's" trip was an arduous journey. After covering four states, the group encountered a few "pop and drop" disappointment storms. From New Mexico, they drove north back to Colorado where they finally found a promising storm, bursting with lightning.
    ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    On the road with Tim Samaras in 2012, ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee tracked the approaching storm over radar on her iPhone. "I never thought I would get this excited about lightning," Zee said at the time.
    ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    While filming with "Nightline," the storm chasing group pulled off the highway to watch the thunderstorm from the back of Tim Samaras' trailer. Shown here in the background is a lightning flash inside of a massive storm cloud.
    ABC News
  • Lightning Chaser Hunts Ultimate Strike

    "[Lightning is] something that I've always been interested in," Tim Samaras told "Nightline" in 2012. "How it comes down, makes contact with the Earth. Why does it choose a target like a tree instead of a building or a building instead of a tree. Perhaps some of the imagery that we collect in the field may help answer some of those questions."
    ABC News
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