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Lightning in a Bottle

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White Sail condo resident Kaitlyn Carey caught this lightning strike on Mahopac Lake with her iPhone during a storm last week. Credits: Kaitlyn Carey
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MAHOPAC, N.Y. - On Tuesday evening, Sept. 5, when violent thunderstorms passed through Mahopac, Kaitlyn Carey stepped out on the balcony of her White Sail condo on Marina Drive to get a front-row seat of the action.

 “As a child, I was terrified of thunder and lightning,” Carey said. “My parents used to tell me that thunder was my grandpa bowling strikes in heaven. Once I got over the fear, my dad and I would sit and watch the storms roll over the lake from my childhood home in Lake Mahopac Woods Association. My dad has always loved watching storms move over lakes. There’s a saying about how when you’re young, storms are terrifying, but as you get older you appreciate them more knowing that even Mother Nature needs to scream. I find so much truth in that saying.”

Carey’s boyfriend was still inside, taking a nap as he recovered from a recent surgery. She knew he would be disappointed missing the intense show Mother Nature was producing out on Lake Mahopac, so she grabbed her cell phone to capture it on video. The result was a video and photo so dramatic, Carey is considering submitting it to National Geographic.

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“My boyfriend Tom’s really great with our camera but me, not so much,” she said. “I decided to ditch the camera and instead just use my iPhone and try to get some slow-motion videos. I couldn’t get the timing right and decided to switch to the time-lapse function. I was holding my phone on our railing to steady my hand and then the lightning bolt hit. In that moment, I was the terrified kid I used to be years ago. The force of the bolt and the sound was so intense I dropped my phone!”

After about 10 minutes of heart-pounding intensity and some deep reflection of the beauty of it all, Carey picked up her phone and saw the incredible picture she captured.

“I texted the photo to my dad who replied with a simple, ‘perfect,’ ” she said. “He was watching the storm from his condo a few over from me, too. I put the photo on Facebook and explained how I caught it.”

Carey said some unscrupulous individuals have tried to claim the video and photo as their own.

“A few people have since stolen the picture and claimed they took it,” she said. “I posted the video later of me dropping my phone to prove I really did take it. The people claiming that they took the photo keep saying they were ‘on the lake’ when they snapped it. Only true Mahopac residents will know this angle is from the condos at White Sail and couldn’t possibly be from on the lake.”

Carey said she was surprised at how much attention the photo and video got on social media.

“It’s such a spectacular picture but I was astounded people are liking and sharing it so much,” she told Mahopac News. “So many people have reached out to me telling me to send it to National Geographic and a multitude of other places.”

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