Philadelphia, PA Storm and Lightning, Mar 1908

Freak Weather Signals Winter’s Transit To Spring

Lightning Sends Chimneys and Roofing Crashes to Streets

Narrow Escapes in West Philadelphia

Mild Thunder Showers In Afternoon Develop Later to Serious Electrical Disturbances

Freak weather embracing almost every variety of all the various seasons, its moods changing almost every hour-marked yesterday as being the real turning point from winter to spring.

Beginning in the early morning with a cold, drizzling rain, during which the sun shone forth intermittently and feebly, the afternoon brought mild thunder storms, the equal of which are seldom seen in this climate except during the very hottest months of midsummer.

Great peals of thunder seemed to rend the heavens. Sometimes they came with a rippling and crashing sound, and at other times with a low, heavy, ominous rumble, but always preceded by sharp streaks of forked lightning which seemed to dart in all parts of the skies at the same time.

Lightning Spectacular

Several houses and barns in the city and suburbs were struck by lightning. In one instance several school children and a number of passengers in a passing trolley car narrowly escaped being injured by flying bricks, pieces of timber, great slices of tin roof and a shower of slate and shingles which were precipitated to the streets below when half a dozen houses were struck by one huge ball of fire.

This happened at Sixty-sixth street and Woodland avenue, about four o’clock in the afternoon. School children were hurrying along the thoroughfare at the time. Suddenly there was a deafening crash and at the same time the whole neighborhood seemed illuminated with an almost blinding light. The heavy peal of thunder which followed the lightning, and which shook all the houses to their foundations, was prolonged by the crashing to the street and sidewalk of the chimneys, slate, tin and tile roofing that had a moment before formed a part of the dwellings extending from 6614 to 6626 Woodland Avenue.

A great roll of the tin roof was only prevented from crashing down upon a trolley car by being caught in the wires of a high telegraph pole. Bricks and shingles went in all directions, but, although there were a number of persons within a few steps of the scene, no one was injured.

The chimneys of all the houses were cut off as cleanly as though with a knife. Every roof was damaged, and in some instances all the tin and slate covering was gone. Policemen of the Sixty-fifth Street and Woodland Avenue station hurried to the scene, expecting to find it one of death or serious injury, so great was the noise of the thunder and the falling tin and bricks.

Electric Bolt Hits Dog

A dog belonging to Harvey Grendert, of Seventieth street and Chester avenue, was struck by a bolt of lightning while near its home. Men who saw the dog struck say that it was lifted fully fifteen feet in the air by the force of the electric bolt, and then fell dead.

A pair of horses attached to a large market wagon belonging to Joseph Carson, of Delaware County, became frightened by the thunder and lightning while standing at Fifty-sixth street and Lancaster avenue. They dashed down the latter street, colliding with trolley poles and scattering pedestrians in all directions. They were finally stopped about four blocks below, when one of the pair fell to the street, dragging the other with it.

Henry Pilitzer, a painter, of Fourth street and Rising Sun lane, while climbing from one roof to another among a row of vacant houses at that location, received an electrical shock. He fell to the roof of a shed below, where he was picked up by a companion. At first it was thought that Pilitzer was dead, but he revived and went to his home half an hour later.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA 19 Mar 1908