A Thunderstorm Over Innsbruck

Experiencing a thunderstorm in the Austrian Alps is a mixture of angst and awe. One such storm was witnessed in the beautiful Alpine city of Innsbruck, Austria.

The morning was warm and muggy with just a few innocent puffy clouds lounging overhead. Throughout the day a haze of moisture slowly grew on the skyline. Beyond, in the western part of the Inn valley, menacing looking clouds slowly matured. As the sun lowered in the sky the stillness of the day was replaced with a breeze. The breeze quickly became stronger and was punctuated with stiff gusts of wind that pushed against trees and buildings. Lightning appeared in the distance over the mountains. The storm was approaching.

The lightning would rip down to the ground; the effect would envelop the entire sky with a blaze of light and simultaneously create outlines of two or three giant Alpine peaks. Many kilometers away it was obvious that a huge amount of energy had just been released. A few moments later a deep rumbling roar of thunder could be heard.

The storm seemed to race down the ancient Inn valley and approached Innsbruck. The lightning came closer and the wind grew in intensity. Drops of spat rain quickly became a sidewise wall of water forcing most of the onlookers inside. Gusts were so intense that objects on outside porches were blown over. The heart of the storm was close.

Lightning cascaded high in the clouds and illuminated the sky directly over the city. Mountainsides only several kilometers away were punched by great bolts of electricity – immediately followed by a loud boom. The lightning, at times, seemed to appear, disappear for a half-second, and then reappear in the same path as the first.

The intensity of the storm subsided as the lighting moved eastward. The thunder continued but this too diminished. Soon only the steady and peaceful beat of the rain was heard.

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