Lightning is like a giant natural circuit breaker. When the balance in the atmosphere's natural electrical charge becomes overloaded, lightning is what flips nature's switch and restores balance. These bolts of electricity, which emerge from clouds during thunderstorms, can be dramatic and deadly. Lightning is, however, a pretty common atmospheric phenomena. At any given second, 100 bolts of lightning are striking somewhere on Planet Earth. And cloud-to-cloud strikes are even more common.
"Lightning typically occurs during thunderstorms when the atmospheric charge between a storm cloud and the ground or a neighboring cloud becomes unbalanced. As precipitation is generated within the cloud, it builds up a negative charge on the underside." This, then, causes the ground below to develop a positive charge as a response. "The imbalance of energy builds up until a bolt of lightning is released, either from cloud to ground or cloud to cloud, restoring the electrical balance of the atmosphere. Eventually, the storm will pass and the atmosphere's natural equilibrium will be restored. What scientists aren't yet sure of is what causes the spark that triggers the lightning bolt."
Did you know that when a bolt of lightning is released, it's five times hotter than the sun? Wowzers! The thunder that's generated by lightning can be heard as far away as 25 miles or 40.23 km. it is not possible to have thunder without lightning.
This where things get really interesting! "The lighting you see during a typical summer thunderstorm is called cloud-to-ground. It travels from a storm cloud to the ground in a zigzag pattern at a rate of 200,000 miles per hour. That's way too fast for the human eye to see this jagged trajectory, called a stepped leader." And when that leading tip of the lightning bolt gets within 150 feet (40.72 m) of the tallest ground object in its vicinity (usually the tallest tree or a church steeple) a bolt of positive energy called a "streamer" surges upward at the alarming rate of 60,000 miles (96560.64 km) per second)! "The resulting collision creates the blinding white flash we call lightning."
Safety tips for during a thunderstorm.
1. If you're outside, seek immediate shelter. Houses and other substantial structures with indoor electricity and plumbing, which are grounded, are your best option. Vehicles with solid tops (not convertibles) are also grounded and safe.
2. If you are caught outdoors, move to the lowest possible ground. it goes without saying but don't seek shelter beneath trees or other tall objects.
3. Avoid plumbing and running water. Metal pipes for water and sewage are not only excellent conductors of electricity, but the water they carry can be laden with impurities that also help conduct electricity.
4. Don't use landlines with cords or desktop computers. Electricity can also be transmitted through the wiring of your home. Cordless and mobile phones are safe to use.
5. Stay away from windows and door. Lightning is a gorgeous sight, especially when arcing across a night sky. But it has been known to strike people after passing through glass or unsealed cracks along doors and window panes.
Do you live in an area that experiences lots of lightning this time of year? We had a heck of a storm last night and I was glad to have a better understanding of what was happening. Quigley, Jr. felt better about it, too!
This does it for me for the week. I'm off for a little bit of weekend R & R. Whatever your do and whatever your plans include, remember to stay safe. I hope to see you back here again on Monday. Until then,