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Motorcyclist struck by lightning on I-5 as powerful storms pummel Western Washington

The National Weather Service says over 100 lightning strikes hit Western Washington Thursday morning. (AP image)

A motorcyclist is lucky to be alive after getting struck by lightning as he rode through a strong thunderstorm Thursday morning on I-5 in Chehalis.

The state patrol says the man took a direct hit in the head from a lightning bolt, but his tires insulated him from electrocution.

The 59-year-old Tenino man was able to ride to a nearby gas station, where medics treated him and took him to Providence-Centralia Hospital with some burns and hearing loss, according to Capt. Kevin Curfman with the Chehalis Fire Department. He's reportedly in satisfactory condition.

"It is amazing he is alive, walking, talking and didn't crash his motorcycle," Chehalis firefighter Steve Emrich told the Chronicle of Centralia. "It was basically a direct hit right through the helmet."

The man did not remember the lightning strike, Emrich said.

The thunderstorm was one of dozens that roared across Western Washington Thursday morning.

Seattle's Whitman Middle School reported a lightning strike knocked out phones around 9:15 a.m.

"I've counted over 100 lightning strikes (Thursday) morning," said meteorologist Brent Bower with the National Weather Service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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About the Author

Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He covers everything from May Day riots in Seattle to the latest Boeing news.


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