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Motorcyclist struck by lightning in Washington

Motorcyclist struck by lightning in Washington

CHEALIS, Wash. -- A 60-year-old motorcyclist was struck by lightning early Thursday morning as he rode on I-5 in Chehalis during one of many thunderstorms that rolled through Western Washington.

The bolt came just after 9 a.m. as the man was riding in the northbound lanes about 1/2 mile south of 13th Street.

Martin Zapalac said the biker had just passed him and was about 10 car lengths ahead of him. "All of a sudden him and his bike lit up," Zapalac said. "I felt when the thunder came -- I felt the concussion of it -- it was a pretty good jolt."

The rider managed to pull over to the shoulder and Zapalac stopped to make sure he was OK.

"Definitely disoriented but he was talking," Zapalec said. "He took his helmet off and his hair was singed," adding the inside of the helmet showed obvious signs of being hit by lightning.

The two drove to a nearby gas station, where they called 911 to summon a medic. The rider was then taken to Providence-Centralia Hospital with some burns and hearing loss but seemed otherwise OK, Chehalis fire officials said.

A lightning bolt also struck a traffic signal at N 105th Street and Aurora Avenue in North Seattle, leaving it in flashing red mode until DOT workers could repair the signal.

In Puyallup, lightning struck a tree outside Christine Gregg's home around 5:30 a.m.

"It killed our modem, CenturyLink service, wireless phones, router, (and) a bunch of light bulbs," Gregg said. "But the worst was the sound was deafening and rocked us all out of our beds from a dead sleep."

In Ocean Shores, storms briefly knocked out power to 1,500 people when a tree branch hit a power line.

The Chehalis storm was one of many that moved through the region as the sun rose Thursday -- an opening salvo in what promised to be a very stormy day across the region.

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