ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Storm chaser and respected scientist Tim Samaras is on a quest to document the birth of a lightning strike. How lightning bolts form is still a mystery and each strike only lasts a fleeting 200 milliseconds, making his mission nearly impossible. Samaras hopes to be the first to photograph the exact moment that triggers a lightning strike.
    ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

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

    Photographer Carsten Peter's photos will also be in the August edition of National Geographic magazine for iPad, available on the App Store. As Tim Samaras waits for a wave of thunderstorms to form along Colorado's Front Range, he readies the 1,600-pound, one-of-a-kind camera he calls the Kahuna. A leftover from the Cold War, the camera was originally used to film aboveground 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 wants 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 hunts for the elusive shot. Although every thunderstorm is pregnant with that brilliant but deadly electrical force, we know surprisingly little about where and when lightning will strike. Samaras hopes his photos and research can help scientists better answer those questions.
    Copyright Carsten Peter
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    "Nightline" recently caught up with Tim Samaras 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 has since upgraded it to digital.
    ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Samaras hauls the Kahuna, now the fastest high-res camera in the world, inside a trailer he pulls behind his truck. The trailer is set up like a mobile lab so Samaras can analyze the trove of photos Kahuna captures out in the field. "I'm not going to give up until this is done," he said. "When the naysayers tell me that this can't be done that just drives me harder."
    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, 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.
    ABC News
  • National Geographic: Lightning

    Eventually the 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

    Tim Samaras is still on his quest to capture that moment when lightning forms. "That's something that I've always been interested in," he said. "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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