Walking home from SWARM at university today. There's been various rumblings of thunder, and some lightning strikes earlier, but nothing nearby. As I walk to Falmer station there's a light drizzle, so light that it's merely humid air.
As I walk up the steps to the station, the part of my mind which watches the weather starts ringing various warning bells, to the point where I'm reluctant to cross the metal bridge at the station (rule one of surviving thunderstorms: try not to pretend to be a lightning conductor). But cross it I do, as my train is on the other side and I'm not going to Lewes and back.
While waiting for the train, I hear an announcement informing people that it's Really Not Nice Weather Out There and to Take Care At The Station. Get the train, and travel one stop to Moulsecoomb.
At Moulsecoomb I get out, and by now enough mental alarm bells are ringing that I take the tunnel rather than the metal bridge. There's more lighting strikes, and they're getting closer.
About 3 minutes from the station (with another 7 to go at normal ambling pace), the weather suddenly changes from very gentle drizzle to extremely heavy downpour. About half an inch of water appears on the road and pavement in places, and flowing rather fast.
Did I mention I'm near the top of a hill? And by now all the mental bad-weather-detectors had moved on from ringing alarm bells and were powering up the 150dB sirens?
So, I hunch down and get soaked to the bone walking at a very fast pace back to the house. My jeans were soaked through, my shoes were waterlogged (and underwater at times), my backpack decided to be decidely non-waterproof, and my hair got a cold shower. Possibly I should have brought some shampoo.
Lightning strikes every few seconds about a mile away did not help my mood and feeling of the surroundings at all. It's rare that I'm actually out during a really heavy downpour, and to be caught out during a heavy thunderstorm is not high up on my to-do list. I'd much rather be high up *inside* a nice solid building, with a good view of the storm. It's not the same when you're actually outside during it - in the building, a direct hit doesn't run quite the same risk of frying you.
Later on, once I'd dried out a bit I looked up the strike info on the lightning tracker website, and what appears to have happened is that a nice big storm brewed up over in France, charged across the channel at a fair lick (~40 minutes to cross), and in Brighton met about 3 other thunderstorms which combined into one uber-storm. As I write this about an hour later (on my laptop with wireless - it is not a myth that lighting kills computers) it seems to have trundled northwards to electrocute London, but there's still the occassional strike here.
Then again, I appear to have come out of this with all devices intact. About a year ago Dan got caught in roughly the same place, and one strike was close enough (and big enough - I heard it inside a building at university) to wipe the firmware on his MP3 player.