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Old 12 December 2009, 12:50 AM
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Florida Sunbathing death at FSU

Comment: I live in Cawthon Hall at Florida State University. There is a
rumor that the fourth floor is haunted by a girl who was struck by
lightning while sunbathing on the roof. I'm not looking for you to confirm
whether the place is haunted, but whether there actually was a girl who
died on the roof in the 1940's. I've researched it but haven't found any
accounts except on ghost hunting sites. This is the story I found online:

According to a story reported in the University newspaper, The Florida
Flambeau during the summer of 1971, numerous students have related
encounters over the years with a poltergeist in an old dormitory.
According to the report, several years prior to the University's becoming
coed in 1949, a female student was sunbathing on a balcony on the roof of
the shadowy gothic building. As is typical in Florida, a sudden and
particularly violent thunderstorm arose to the east of the building, and
welled up ominously over the campus. Although the sky directly above the
dormitory was blue, a freak lightning bolt snaked across the sky, curling
over the building's turrets striking a sunbathing female student, killing
her instantly. Since that time, subsequent occupants of the room she
occupied have reported mysterious object movements, unexplained sounds in
the room at night, and at times an overwhelming sense of another
individual present in the room. Sometimes students would find that common
items, such as stacks of books or pictures, would be moved around during
the day, with no apparent rhyme or reason, other than perhaps a restless
spirit seeking to maintain her link with the world of the living.
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  #2  
Old 12 December 2009, 01:24 AM
Barbara
 
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Whalephant

Is this where the Lucky Strike "It's Toasted" slogan came from?
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  #3  
Old 12 December 2009, 01:28 AM
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Maybe I am missing something, but isn't there a vital ingredient in sunbathing, i.e. the sun, that is usually missing in thunderstorms? Even Florida thunderstorms require clouds. We get rain from cloudless skies, but I have never seen lightning from them.
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  #4  
Old 12 December 2009, 01:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
Maybe I am missing something, but isn't there a vital ingredient in sunbathing, i.e. the sun, that is usually missing in thunderstorms? Even Florida thunderstorms require clouds. We get rain from cloudless skies, but I have never seen lightning from them.
Lightning can strike ahead of thunderstorms. It's not unheard of in Florida to have a "bolt from the blue" as it were.

(I grew up in the Tampa area, and I've seen it happen.)

erwins
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  #5  
Old 12 December 2009, 01:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
Lightning can strike ahead of thunderstorms. It's not unheard of in Florida to have a "bolt from the blue" as it were.
I haven't seen it, not significantly in advance of thunderstorms. The earliest I have seen strikes were when the clouds were pretty rapidly rolling in, and it would be obvious at that point that it was time to give up on sunbathing.
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  #6  
Old 12 December 2009, 02:10 AM
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From NOAA:
Quote:
Bolt from the Blue lightning flashes are a particularly dangerous type of lightning flash, as they appear to come out of clear sky. This type of lightning is why it is dangerous to be outside when thunderstorms are in the region, even when skies are still clear. Lightning can, and does, strike many miles away from the thunderstorm cloud itself.
I'm not saying it's common, but I'm saying that it doesn't debunk the story, because it can certainly happen. The linked site has a documented strike that came from a storm cloud 40 km (around 25 mi) away.

erwins
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  #7  
Old 12 December 2009, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
I haven't seen it, not significantly in advance of thunderstorms. The earliest I have seen strikes were when the clouds were pretty rapidly rolling in, and it would be obvious at that point that it was time to give up on sunbathing.
There was a young boy in Ontario who was killed by lightning this summer. Reportedly, the sky overhead was perfectly blue, which was why they hadn't left the field they'd been playing on.
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  #8  
Old 12 December 2009, 02:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
I'm not saying it's common, but I'm saying that it doesn't debunk the story, because it can certainly happen. The linked site has a documented strike that came from a storm cloud 40 km (around 25 mi) away.
Wow. Interesting. I have always been in the habit of coming in when clouds were visible, and not worrying about it until then. I may have to rethink this strategy.
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Old 12 December 2009, 02:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
Wow. Interesting. I have always been in the habit of coming in when clouds were visible, and not worrying about it until then. I may have to rethink this strategy.
The NOAA site says that strikes tend to be within 10 miles of the storm--that 25 mile strike (from the east coast of Florida, by the way!) was a record setter. The site has a rhyme for kids to learn: "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!" which is based on the fact that if you can hear thunder at all, you are within striking distance of lightning.

Growing up I was never cautious enough about lightning. I would always try to get that last bit of swimming in at the beach, or keep playing outside until it started to rain--it drove my mom nuts, because she was, of course, always telling me to come in when there was a thunderstorm coming. I guess I was running much more of a risk than I knew.

I really should have known better, too. Two different houses that I lived in were struck--one the lightning hit the electric meter and fried several appliances in the house, and one the lightning hit a telephone pole that had a street-type-light on it in our yard. (In both cases the lightning hit while it was raining, although it had just barely started raining when the telephone pole was hit.)

erwins
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Old 12 December 2009, 03:10 AM
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People do fall asleep sunbathing, so it is possible she fell asleep in clear weather and wasn't aware of the oncoming storm.

That's not any proof that it happened of course.

Is it common or even permitted to sunbathe on a university roof though?
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  #11  
Old 12 December 2009, 04:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddylizard View Post
Is it common or even permitted to sunbathe on a university roof though?
The OP does say that she was on a "balcony on the roof", which I take to mean that whatever it was, it was meant to be accessible by people in the building. Whether or not a student was supposed to be sunbathing out there is another matter, but it doesn't sound like she sneaked up onto the roof through a maintenance hatch or something.

-RB
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Old 12 December 2009, 04:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddylizard View Post
People do fall asleep sunbathing, so it is possible she fell asleep in clear weather and wasn't aware of the oncoming storm.

That's not any proof that it happened of course.

Is it common or even permitted to sunbathe on a university roof though?
My dorm in college had a sun deck on the roof. We would frequently lay out in between classes to work on our tans.
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Old 12 December 2009, 04:37 AM
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I do not know about FSU, but here at UFL I can't think of many flat surfaces that are not used for sunbathing. If you are legally allowed to be there (and sometimes if you aren't) someone will be laying out in it, or at the very least hanging out in a bathing suit.
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Old 25 December 2009, 02:47 AM
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sunbathing deaths are not uncommon, they just usually take a little longer than that.
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  #15  
Old 26 December 2009, 03:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
I do not know about FSU, but here at UFL I can't think of many flat surfaces that are not used for sunbathing. If you are legally allowed to be there (and sometimes if you aren't) someone will be laying out in it, or at the very least hanging out in a bathing suit.
I think most dorm/apartment/Greek houses forbid sunbathing on the roof, mostly because of the risk of falls.

I have heard of lightning strikes when it's not raining. We always called it "heat lightning," but I don't know what causes it.
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Old 26 December 2009, 06:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonfall View Post
I have heard of lightning strikes when it's not raining. We always called it "heat lightning," but I don't know what causes it.
In my experience (growing up in the Tampa area), "heat lightning" refers to something else. Specifically, when clouds are lit up by lightning, and you don't hear any thunder, or see the lightning strike. It just looks like the cloud itself is flashing almost.

erwins
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  #17  
Old 26 December 2009, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
In my experience (growing up in the Tampa area), "heat lightning" refers to something else. Specifically, when clouds are lit up by lightning, and you don't hear any thunder, or see the lightning strike. It just looks like the cloud itself is flashing almost.

erwins

When I was growing up what we called heat lighting was the rainless/thunderless lightning you saw at night.

I used to wonder why people here in Tucson seem to be rather oblivious about the dangers of lightning when during monsoon it can lightning a lot, and then it occurred to me that there aren't a lot of public pools here where you learn about lightning safety from getting chased from the water and then lectured/talked to by lifeguards.
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Old 26 December 2009, 12:04 PM
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Wow, in Hawaii we rarely get lightning. We swim in the rain all the time.
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  #19  
Old 26 December 2009, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dear Babby View Post
Wow, in Hawaii we rarely get lightning. We swim in the rain all the time.
You know, somehow I was wondering one day if you guys got thunderstorms there. Now I know.
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  #20  
Old 26 December 2009, 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitap View Post
You know, somehow I was wondering one day if you guys got thunderstorms there. Now I know.
When it happens, people are scared to death!
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