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Old 15.07.2009, 15:08
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Lightning Risk

I rather enjoy storms, and, so long as they're not directly overhead, don't mind being outside in them.

But I just read this page of lightning safety advice and am beginning to wonder.

How much of this should I take seriously? Is lightning really dangerous up to 30 minutes after the storm has passed? Is the advice to stay indoors if you can hear the thunder less than 30 seconds after the lightning just a tad overcautious?

Has anyone got any lightning horror stories they wish to share?
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:11
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Re: Lightning Risk

It'll make you go blind

http://www.gladiatorszone.co.uk/glad...ale/lightning/
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:14
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Re: Lightning Risk

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I rather enjoy storms, and, so long as they're not directly overhead, don't mind being outside in them.

But I just read this page of lightning safety advice and am beginning to wonder.

How much of this should I take seriously? Is lightning really dangerous up to 30 minutes after the storm has passed? Is the advice to stay indoors if you can hear the thunder less than 30 seconds after the lightning just a tad overcautious?

Has anyone got any lightning horror stories they wish to share?
That article is surely beyond paranoid. I think you're pretty safe unless you're out in open ground.

Most stories I've read about people being struck by lightning are golfers or park rangers, footballers seems a recent addition.
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:15
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Re: Lightning Risk

LOL, good topic, especially this time of year!

Old Swiss school says to close all windows when a lightning storm hits,
because the lightning could pass through the house if two windows are
open - like a good breeze does. Of course I tried to explain that this is not
possible... forget it, they don't want to hear any explanations... just close
the windows!
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:28
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Re: Lightning Risk

In the company where I worked in Lancashire there was a farmer's field opposite the office with a couple of trees dotted around. One afternoon we were absent mindedly watching a thunderstorm going on outside when a lightning strike hit one of the trees almost obliterating about a third of it in a shower of sparks and general spectacularness.

The odd thing is that the remaining part of the tree survived and continued to shed and regrow its leaves as if nothing had happened. The bough which had been blown off was left as a charred reminder until the farmer cleared it away the following spring.

The field also regularly hosted a young lady exercising her horse in a very bouncy manner in a very tight lycra vest and leggings so we used to joke that the lightning strike was a warning to all the pervy guys in the office spending too much time dribbling and ogling when they should be working.
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:42
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Re: Lightning Risk

yes and my grandmother used to cover the mirrors...
also thought she was really weird until i watched the avo tree (at least 6m high) being hit by lightning and split in 2 down the middle - very scary stuff!
at our previous house a tree was hit by lightning which ripped out the top 30cm of a brick wall that was standing next to it - and we had to fix the wall, because it was our tree and the neighbours wall lol!
i don't know about CH but in south africa, every summer had lightning related deaths on the golf courses...
so when lightning starts, i go indoors - and watch the show from under cover...
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Old 15.07.2009, 16:36
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Re: Lightning Risk

More safety tips and anecdotes from survivors here, DB:

http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/stor...&sec=lifefocus


Bring along a rubber-handled umbrella the next time you go out in ominous weather. (Joke. Don't use an umbrella and become the tallest object around.)
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:54
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Re: Lightning Risk

As someone who grew up in Florida, I can tell you that freak lightning bolts can easily come out of nowhere an hour or more after the main thunderstorm has passed.

My advice: If the lightning has stopped but it's still overcast and rainy, consider staying inside. I've seen these freak bolts hit buildings and trees within 200m of my position about five times in my life.
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Old 15.07.2009, 16:36
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Re: Lightning Risk

You could stand out in an open field under a pine tree wielding a golf club, and you'd still have to be pretty unlucky to be hit by lightning.

Switzerland gets about 450,000 lightning flashes per year (BLIDS data from 2007). Only about 20% of those are cloud-to-ground - so 90,000 strikes per year over the whole country, or 2.18 strikes per square kilometer, per year.

95% of lightning here occurs during the months of May through August; say only 1/4 of those nights actually do have a thunderstorm near you (seems like a lowball estimate), then we're talking 0.072 strikes per square kilometer, per stormy summer night.

A lightning strike up to 10m away counts as a direct hit, more or less, so by standing out in the open you 'occupy' a circular zone of area 78.5 m^2. This means your odds of being hit by lightning if you stand outside all night on a stormy night are 5.7E-7: nearly one in two million.


Another way to look at it (specially for the number skeptics): has your house ever been hit by lightning? And your house stands outside all night every night, is several times bigger and taller than you are, and probably has a metal rod on top of it.
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Old 15.07.2009, 16:39
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Re: Lightning Risk

Thanx 4 en-lightning us!
I sell my Faraday cage for 400 CHF , never used, never burned, with 2 years guaranty. anyone interested!?
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Old 15.07.2009, 17:48
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Re: Lightning Risk

I have a metal rod attatched am i at greater risk too ?



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You could stand out in an open field under a pine tree wielding a golf club, and you'd still have to be pretty unlucky to be hit by lightning.

Switzerland gets about 450,000 lightning flashes per year (BLIDS data from 2007). Only about 20% of those are cloud-to-ground - so 90,000 strikes per year over the whole country, or 2.18 strikes per square kilometer, per year.

95% of lightning here occurs during the months of May through August; say only 1/4 of those nights actually do have a thunderstorm near you (seems like a lowball estimate), then we're talking 0.072 strikes per square kilometer, per stormy summer night.

A lightning strike up to 10m away counts as a direct hit, more or less, so by standing out in the open you 'occupy' a circular zone of area 78.5 m^2. This means your odds of being hit by lightning if you stand outside all night on a stormy night are 5.7E-7: nearly one in two million.


Another way to look at it (specially for the number skeptics): has your house ever been hit by lightning? And your house stands outside all night every night, is several times bigger and taller than you are, and probably has a metal rod on top of it.
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Old 15.07.2009, 18:06
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Re: Lightning Risk

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You could stand out in an open field under a pine tree wielding a golf club, and you'd still have to be pretty unlucky to be hit by lightning.

Switzerland gets about 450,000 lightning flashes per year (BLIDS data from 2007). Only about 20% of those are cloud-to-ground - so 90,000 strikes per year over the whole country, or 2.18 strikes per square kilometer, per year.

95% of lightning here occurs during the months of May through August; say only 1/4 of those nights actually do have a thunderstorm near you (seems like a lowball estimate), then we're talking 0.072 strikes per square kilometer, per stormy summer night.

A lightning strike up to 10m away counts as a direct hit, more or less, so by standing out in the open you 'occupy' a circular zone of area 78.5 m^2. This means your odds of being hit by lightning if you stand outside all night on a stormy night are 5.7E-7: nearly one in two million.


Another way to look at it (specially for the number skeptics): has your house ever been hit by lightning? And your house stands outside all night every night, is several times bigger and taller than you are, and probably has a metal rod on top of it.
Ah, if only it was a random distribution as you assume! Life would be so
much simpler and so much safer...

You overlook one or two teeny, teeny, teeny details: step leaders and
positive streamers.

The step leaders are sort of the plasma "feeling" its way for a discharge
path, and when they start to approach the surface, objects on the surface
(trees, brollies, BH wires, people, and so on...) start to extend positive
streamers up and towards the step leaders.

Once a step leader meets a positive streamer is when all hell breaks loose.

(There's a classic photo that I'll try to find - it's pretty spectacular. It
catches the moment where a number of leaders and streamers are just
about to meet. The photographer later realised that the photo included
a streamer from him that also extended forwards and upwards, and that
he had nearly taken a photo of his own demise... )

Executive summary:
If I'm in a open field with a pine tree, I'd rather be right in the open, far
away from the tree and with you under the tree wielding the proverbial
golf club. You're much more likely to take the hit than I am...
.
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Old 15.07.2009, 22:39
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Re: Lightning Risk

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You could stand out in an open field under a pine tree wielding a golf club, and you'd still have to be pretty unlucky to be hit by lightning.

A lightning strike up to 10m away counts as a direct hit, more or less, so by standing out in the open you 'occupy' a circular zone of area 78.5 m^2. This means your odds of being hit by lightning if you stand outside all night on a stormy night are 5.7E-7: nearly one in two million.
A friend of mine died being struck by lightning.

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Another way to look at it (specially for the number skeptics): has your house ever been hit by lightning? And your house stands outside all night every night, is several times bigger and taller than you are, and probably has a metal rod on top of it.

Yes, when I was a kid - it destroyed the roof and in came all the water.



Useful tips:


A place never to shelter in a storm is a cave on a mountain side. The lightning strike runs down the mountain side, reaches the roof of the cave and...you, sitting in the cave act like a spark plug with the lightning jumping to your head and down to earth through you.

Mountain ridges are also really dangerous places to be in a storm.
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Old 16.07.2009, 10:19
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Re: Lightning Risk

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Mountain ridges are also really dangerous places to be in a storm.
I like thunderstorms too. However, i was once caught on such a ridge, carrying my nice metal mountain bike up it. The trail was too steep to ride, and i was far from the bottom when a gentle rumble turned into a violent storm within about 15 minutes. i have to say i was quite terrified and ended up running up a mountain with the bike on my back to reach the restaurant on top..... this took about 20 minutes and i have rarely been so exhausted nor relieved.

On another note, i remember hearing that the trailing edge of a storm, what may be thought of as the "tail" of the storm, carries a particular charge pattern that often lets loose a lightning strike after you think the main part of the storm has passed.
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Old 16.07.2009, 10:11
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Re: Lightning Risk

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Another way to look at it (specially for the number skeptics): has your house ever been hit by lightning? And your house stands outside all night every night, is several times bigger and taller than you are, and probably has a metal rod on top of it.
Interesting stuff Mathnut, thanks. You live up to your name there.

Actually my parents house was struck two years ago, you could see a black scorchmark on the side of the house where it hit.... and our telephone basically exploded... so its a good thing neither were using it at the time.
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:31
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Re: Lightning Risk

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I rather enjoy storms, and, so long as they're not directly overhead, don't mind being outside in them.

But I just read this page of lightning safety advice and am beginning to wonder.

How much of this should I take seriously? Is lightning really dangerous up to 30 minutes after the storm has passed? Is the advice to stay indoors if you can hear the thunder less than 30 seconds after the lightning just a tad overcautious?

Has anyone got any lightning horror stories they wish to share?
Lightning can strike up to 20 miles away and you wouldn't normally be able to hear thunder at that distance. You might even be standing under a clear blue sky when you get struck.
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:39
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Re: Lightning Risk

I was with a walking group in Apenzellerland some years ago. Toward the end of our walk the sky darkened and an almighty thunderstorm threw hail down on us with lightening flash so often that it was impossible to tell which thunder crash was from which flash.

Hail really, really hurts when it's the size and consistency of glass marbles and we had to put our arms over our heads to reduce the pain.

What had been little streams just a few minutes before, turned into thrashing brown rivers.

The point of this tale is that all one has ever learnt and been told about what to do in thunder storm goes out of the window in a situation like this. What did everyone do? Run under trees to shelter. The bigger the better. It took some courage to stand out in the open and try to my ones way down to the valley...
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:43
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Re: Lightning Risk

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I was with a walking group in Apenzellerland some years ago. Toward the end of our walk the sky darkened and an almighty thunderstorm threw hail down on us with lightening flash so often that it was impossible to tell which thunder crash was from which flash.

Hail really, really hurts when it's the size and consistency of glass marbles and we had to put our arms over our heads to reduce the pain.

What had been little streams just a few minutes before, turned into thrashing brown rivers.

The point of this tale is that all one has ever learnt and been told about what to do in thunder storm goes out of the window in a situation like this. What did everyone do? Run under trees to shelter. The bigger the better. It took some courage to stand out in the open and try to my ones way down to the valley...
Standing under a tree to shelter is the worst place to be as it increases the chances of your getting struck by lightning.
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:53
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Re: Lightning Risk

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Standing under a tree to shelter is the worst place to be as it increases the chances of your getting struck by lightning.
I think AbFab knows that, Captain Obvious.
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Old 15.07.2009, 15:53
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Re: Lightning Risk

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Standing under a tree to shelter is the worst place to be as it increases the chances of your getting struck by lightning.
err, i always thought it was the risk of injury from the exploding tree was what did the damage? lighting will take the shortest path to ground, so unless you're standing in a sapling park pretty much every tree is going to be taller than you!

check out NASA and their lighting protection: they have a 10 AND 20 mile exclusion zone for 'weather' (particular types of storm clouds etc) around their launch sites to protect the shuttle etc. the most recent attempts to launch this week and last weekend have been postponed as a result of this.
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