Lightning's fingerprint: Bolt leaves striking scar in Highlands pasture

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Floridians are used to seeing lightning bolts carve crooked lines through the sky, but it’s not very often that we see them leave their mark on the ground. However, that’s the scene in a Highlands County pasture.

Photos, taken from a drone by county engineer Gator Howerton, show the result of a recent lightning strike.  The bolt killed the grass in a very distinctive pattern, with eight or nine tentacles radiating out from the point of impact.

Howerton said the strike happened Wednesday night. It was the only one in the area at the time, and he’s pretty sure he saw it from Sebring around 6 p.m. That’s when he got a call from his wife at home in Avon Park – the bolt had hit their cow pasture, within 150 yards of their house.

Fortunately, no people – or cows – were hurt.  When he headed out to the field the next day, Howerton spotted the distinctive scar of a lightning strike.

He fired up his drone to get a bird’s eye view of the scene.  From above, the spider-like pattern appears to be at last 20 or 30 feet across.

“In all my years riding through pastures, I have not seen that before,” Howerton told FOX 13. “It was pretty unusual.”