Lightning caused deaths are fewer every year, at least in the US!
This decade will go down in weather history as one of the wildest in modern times. Since 2010, we’ve seen both the widest and strongest tornado on record touch down in Oklahoma. Mexico felt the wrath of the strongest hurricane ever recorded in terms of wind speed. The American West is enduring a years-long drought with no end in sight. But it’s not all bad news. This decade is also on track to see the lowest number of lightning deaths we’ve ever recorded in the United States, and that’s quite the accomplishment.
A teenage girl survived a terrifying lightning strike, saved by her iPod wire!
A teenage girl survived a terrifying lightning strike after she was saved by the wire of her iPod. Schoolgirl Sophie Frost and her boyfriend Mason Billington, both 14, stopped to shelter under a tree when a storm struck as they were walking near their homes. They were struck by a lightning but survived! Doctors believe Sophie survived the 300,000-volt surge only because it travelled through the gadget’s wire, diverting it away from her vital organs.
Lightning bolt hit Vatican twice, hours after Pope's Benedict XVI's shock resignation.
Lightning bolt hit Vatican twice, hours after Pope's Benedict XVI's shock resignation. The lightning touched the roof of St. Peter's Basilica, one of the holiest Catholic churches, hours after Pope’s shock announcement. The spooky moment, believed by some, to be a sign from God, was caught on camera by AFP photographer Filippo Monteforte.
What was that strange light in the sky?
Many people overnight reported seeing strange lights in the sky, a phenomenon that has been reported for centuries before, during, and after earthquakes.
Seismologists aren't in agreement about the causes of the hotly-debated phenomenon - called earthquake lights or, sometimes, earthquake lightning.
And, of course, it's not clear whether the lights overnight in New Zealand were the phenomenon, or something else.
One theory suggests dormant electrical charges in rocks are triggered by the stress of the Earth's crust and plate tectonics, transferring the charge to the surface where it appears as light.
Historical reports include globes, or orbs, of glowing light, floating just above the ground or in the sky.
Much like tidal research, it is an area that is notoriously difficult to investigate. Tidal stresses and their effects on the Earth are minute, but measurable, although many seismologists remain unconvinced by theories of "tidally triggered" earthquakes.
With "earthquake light", the phenomenon is also notoriously difficult to observe, study, and measure.
GNS seismologist Caroline Holden said there were anecdotal reports of lights in the sky.
"Unfortunately, we cannot measure this phenomena or its extent with our instruments to provide a clear explanation," she said.
The phenomenon has been documented for centuries.
Hypotheses have suggested the movement of rocks could generate an electric field, others suggest quakes can lead to rocks conducting electromagnetic energy and a subsequent build up of electric charges in the upper atmosphere.
Yet another theory suggests a link between the electric charge, or current, released by the earth ripping and buckling below the surface, and the magnetic properties of rock.
The charge appears as light, so the theory goes.
People reported similar strange lights in the sky during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
In 1888, before a large quake around the Hanmer region, a strange glow in the sky was reported by observers.
One recent study documented hundreds of sightings of strange light, glowing, and aurora-like reports, from 1600 to the 19th century.
The study in the Seismological Research Letters suggested a charge builds up in rock inside the Earth's crust and, as it becomes rapidly unstable in a quake, expands outward.
In an earthquake, the electrical charge transfers from below the surface to the surface, or above, depending on the conductivity of the rock - appearing as light.
"When such an intense charge state reaches the Earth's surface and crosses the ground–air interface, it is expected to cause [an electric transmission and breakdown] of the air and, hence, an outburst of light.
"This process is suspected to be responsible for flashes of light coming out of the ground and expanding to considerable heights at the time when seismic waves from a large earthquake pass by."
The study said some seismologists also think the theory could account for other phenomena, such as changes to electrical fields, strange fog, haze, clouds, and low-frequency humming or radio frequency emission.
In the study, the researchers found the light was more often associated with a type of quake in which tectonic plates are wrenched apart, known as a "rift" earthquake
An incredible 45 day storm turned California into a 300-mile-long sea — and it could happen again.
A massive 19th century storm in the pacific United States opened up a 300-mile-long sea that stretched through much of the central part of California. For 43 days, from late 1861 to early 1862, it rained almost nonstop in central California. Rivers running down the Sierra Nevada mountains turned into torrents that swept entire towns away.
Which are the places more likely to be struck by lightning?
The place most likely to be struck by lightning in the world is one spot above Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, according to new data. Over this mountain lake, there was a lightning show an astounding 297 days out of 365 days a year, on average. Even more surprising, the lightning strikes didn't occur just over the massive lake, but at one particular spot -- the point where the lake empties into the Catatumbo River, researchers said Dec. 14 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
A man was blown out of boots after being hit by a lightning bolt!
A man in Atlanta, USA was lucky to be alive after he was struck by lightning, blowing him right out of his work boots. Sean O’Connor was doing yard work Saturday when he was struck by a bolt of lightning and knocked unconscious. According to the 30-year-old, the sun was shining and there appeared to be no threat of storms when he began working in his yard.
In the midst of a bizarre winter, Montrealers were treated to a rare sight on Monday night — a winter thunderstorm. Montrealers Jolyane Limoges and Pierre-Marc Doucet managed to capture the phenomenon during a snow squall, and post it on YouTube. The phenomenon is known as thundersnow — it's like a normal thunderstorm, but with snow as the primary form of precipitation. Thundersnow events happen when a mass of cold air settles on top of warm air, coupled with moist air closer to the ground.
Planes get hit by lightning frequently!
Airplanes get hit by lightning mid-flight! Contrary to what you might believe, it’s a common occurrence on airplanes.
Lightning Makes For A Terrible Renewable Energy Source
Lightning is an impressive, energetic force of nature — so why aren't we using all that raw power to run our homes? Two reasons:
For one thing, lightning is unpredictable and really, really fast.
The second part of the answer: It's hot and loud and bright, but lightning doesn't carry as much energy as you might think.
Lightning can strike at sea!
In a rare incident of its kind, a coastguard diver and a citizen were killed after they were struck by a lightning bolt off Khairan beach of Kuwait on the 8th of May 2016.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that a jet ski of citizen Saad Khaled Al-Shereeda broke down and a coastguard boat was dispatched to rescue him.
The ministry added that the coastguard diver, Abdullah Othman Al-Doussary, jumped in the water to help the man, but they were both struck by lightning and were killed instantly.
In October last year, an Asian was killed by lightning in northern Kuwait during a freak storm. It is estimated that 6,000 to as many as 24,000 people are killed around the world by lightning strikes every year.
A United States park ranger was hit by lightning on seven different occasions and survived all of them. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 71 over an unrequited love!
Roy Cleveland Sullivan was a United States park ranger in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Between 1942 and 1977, Sullivan was hit by lightning on seven different occasions and survived all of them. For this reason, he gained a nickname "Human Lightning Conductor" or "Human Lightning Rod". Sullivan is recognized by Guinness World Records as the person struck by lightning more recorded times than any other human being. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 71 over an unrequited love.
More than 400 people were killed in southern Egypt when lightning struck a depot's fuel tanks.
More than 400 people were killed in southern Egypt, most of them when blazing fuel flooded into a village from a depot struck by lightning in a rainstorm. Lightning struck the depot's eight fuel tanks toward the end of the storm that raged across much of Egypt for up to five hours.
A 36-year-old diver was killed after lightning struck his oxygen tank!
A 36-year-old diver was killed off a Florida beach after lightning struck his oxygen tank, authorities have said. The man was diving with three others off a boat near Deerfield Beach on Sunday. When he surfaced, ‘lighting struck his tank,’ said Deerfield Beach fire Chief Gary Fernaays. ‘He was approximately 30 feet from the boat at the time.’
On July 13, 1977, New York City endured a 25-hour blackout after lightning strikes power lines.
On July 13, 1977, New York City endured a 25-hour blackout after lightning strikes power lines, prompting widespread arson, looting, and riots. The blackout was to many a metaphor for the gloom that had already settled on the city. An economic decline, coupled with rising crime rates and the panic-provoking (and paranoia-inducing) Son of Sam murders, had combined to make the late 1970s New York’s Dark Ages.
Storm sank 4 ships on Lake Erie in 1916
Some call it Lake Erie’s “perfect storm,” one so powerful 100 years ago that it caused four ships to sink within 18 hours.
In all, 49 lives were lost in the lake’s Canadian waters, but those crew members are being remembered right here in Toledo.
“This massive [storm] affected communities across the lake,” said Carrie Snowden, archaeological director for the Toledo-based National Museum of the Great Lakes, and who is giving a presentation about the storm during a lecture series today. “This storm is Lake Erie’s own perfect storm; this coming together of different weather fronts to create something horrific on top of Lake Erie. The human loss is of greater significance.”
An "of the blue" bolt evidence!
An 11-year-old western Pennsylvania girl is recovering after she was struck by a bolt from the blue. According to Lisa Wehrle the sun was shining when her daughter, Britney, was struck by lightning Friday, apparently from a storm several miles away.
...that Lightning produces afterglow of gamma radiation?
Lightning can produce X-rays and gamma radiation. In the past, researchers thought that this phenomenon only lasted for a very short time, about a ten thousandth part of a second. However, the ionizing radiation of lightning appears to shine much longer than presumed: an afterglow of gamma radiation arises, which lasts up to 10,000 times longer. This is demonstrated for the first time by computer simulations of researchers from Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam. Their article 'TGF afterglows: a new radiation mechanism from thunderstorms' was published on 22 October 2017 in the scientific journal Geophysical Review Letters. This discovery can provide more insight into how lightning develops.
Terrestrial gamma flashes
‘Terrestrial gamma flashes’ were discovered about two decades ago. When lightning starts, electrons can be accelerated to very high energies, which cause an explosion of gamma radiation when these electrons crash into air molecules: the so-called terrestrial gamma flashes'. Bursts of up to a trillion (‘a billion billion’) gamma particles are measured on the ground, in airplanes and by satellites. However, these measurements are difficult, since these bursts are very focused and only last for a short time, around 0,0001 seconds. There is still much unknown about how these terrestrial gamma flashes arise and what their role is in the development of lightning. The now discovered afterglow helps to study this phenomenon.
Afterglow in all directions
CWI researcher Casper Rutjes explains what happens in the newly discovered radiation mechanism. “The radiation of a terrestrial gamma flash is so strong that nuclear reactions can take place. When the gamma rays hit the atomic nuclei of the air molecules, the protons and neutrons, of which atomic nuclei exist, can be detached. The loose neutrons can wander longer and farther than protons because they don’t have electrical charge. After a while, the neutron is captured by another atomic nucleus, which can again produce gamma radiation. The high energy of the gamma ray flash, which is used in releasing neutrons, is, so to speak, temporarily stored in the released neutrons.” The CWI researchers calculated that in this way an afterglow of new gamma radiation occurs, which lasts for 1,000 to 10,000 times longer than the gamma ray flash itself and which is not focused but radiates into all directions, which facilitates measurements.
The CWI researchers found in the scientific literature hardly any measurements that corresponded to the predictions, because almost no one was done on the right time scale. Researcher Casper Rutjes says: “Recently, our simulations have also been confirmed by experiments. Almost simultaneously, G.S. Bowers et al. of the University of California Santa Cruz, have measured a clear afterglow of gamma ray flashes in Japan, after a lightning bolt struck a wind turbine. That article, ‘Gamma-ray signatures of neutrons from a terrestrial gamma-ray flash’, also appeared now in the scientific journal Geophysical Review Letters.
About the radiation risk Rutjes says: “The chance of being hit directly by a terrestrial gamma ray flash is very small. If someone in a plane is hit directly by such a narrow terrestrial gamma ray flash, this person will receive a radiation dose approximately equal to 400 times an X-ray picture (30 mSv). The afterglow that we discovered radiates into all directions, increasing the chance that a plane flying above a thunderstorm is hit, but fortunately, that radiation is much weaker. The radiation dose of the afterglow after lightning is not dangerous: less than passengers already receive through background radiation when they fly for an hour.”
The research was conducted by Casper Rutjes, Gabriel Diniz, Ivan Ferreira and Ute Ebert from Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam, and it was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
..that ship-emitted particles and increase lightning?
MODERN, broad-beamed merchant vessels are well able to withstand the rough and tumble of the waves, but sailors still prefer to avoid storms at sea if they can. Containers may come loose in heavy weather and there is always a chance of lightning knocking out communications. It is therefore ironic that some storms may be caused by ships themselves. That, at least, is the conclusion reached by Joel Thornton of the University of Washington, in Seattle, and his colleagues in a paper just published in Geophysical Research Letters. They demonstrate that lightning strikes the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea almost twice as often along shipping lanes as it does other areas of these waters.
Dr Thornton and his team considered 1.5bn strikes recorded in this part of the world by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (an international collaboration led by Dr Thornton’s colleague, Robert Holzworth) between 2005 and 2016. As the map shows, those strikes that happened over the ocean were concentrated in places most plied by ships. In particular, the shipping lane that passes from the south of Sri Lanka to the northern entrance of the Straits of Malacca, and thence down the straits to Singapore, positively glows with lightning. (Its westward extension to the Suez canal was outside the study area.) So do the lanes from Singapore and the western part of Malaysia that head north-east across the South China Sea.
Neither changes in vertical wind shear nor differences in horizontal air movements seem likely to be causing this concentration of thunderstorms, for other measurements suggest that these weather-modifying phenomena are the same inside shipping lanes as they are in neighbouring parts of the atmosphere immediately outside those lanes. Nor does it seem plausible that the ships themselves (admittedly made of metal, and also the tallest structures on what is otherwise a flat surface) are responsible for attracting all the extra strikes involved. Though the area of the lanes is small compared with the whole ocean, it is vast compared with the area actually occupied by vessels. Most of the extra bolts are hitting the sea rather than craft sailing across it.
The most likely explanation is particulate pollution emitted by the ships using the shipping lanes. Marine diesel burned offshore is generally high in sulphur, and its combustion produces soluble oxides of that element which act as nuclei for the condensation of cloud-forming droplets. Typical marine clouds in unpolluted areas are composed of large droplets and do not rise to high altitude, but Dr Thornton and his team reckon that smaller droplets, of the sort that condense around oxides of sulphur, might more easily be carried upward by convection—forming, as they rose, into towering storm clouds that would act as nurseries of lightning bolts.
As to what can be done about this extra lightning, change may already be in hand. At the moment, standard “bunker” fuel has an average sulphur content of 2.7%. From 2020 that should fall to 0.5% if refiners and shipowners obey rules being introduced by the International Maritime Organisation, the body responsible for trying to impose order on the world’s shipping.
Ships are also being sailed more efficiently, often by slowing them down, which reduces the amount of fuel consumed per nautical mile. That is how Maersk Line—one of the world’s biggest container-ship operators—has cut its fleet’s fuel consumption by 42% since 2007.
On top of this, ship propulsion is becoming more efficient, as heat-recycling systems and new types of engine are introduced. In a few decades, therefore, the storminess of shipping lanes may have returned to normal. In the meantime, for any who may doubt humanity’s ability to affect the weather, Dr Thornton’s work provides strong evidence that it can.
This article appeared in the Science and technology section of the print edition under the headline "Brimstone and fire"
Why is lightning white?
Static charges form in a storm composed of ice crystals and liquid water drops. Turbulent winds inside the storm cause particles to rub against one another, causing electrons to be stripped off, making the particles either negatively or positively charged.
The charges get grouped in the cloud, often negatively charged near the bottom of the cloud and positively charged up high. This is an electric field and because air is a good insulator, the electric field becomes incredibly strong. Eventually a lightning bolt happens and the flow of electrons neutralizes the electric field.
This flow of electrons through the lightning bolt creates a very hot plasma, as hot as 50,000 degrees, that emits a spectrum of electromagnetic energy. Some of this radiation is in the form of radio waves and gamma rays.
Instruments that measure these electromagnetic waves allow us to detect lightning bolts that are very far away. Visible light is also part of the spectrum of energy.
At these temperatures, laws of physics state that most of the visible light will be at a wavelength perceived as the color blue, although all wavelengths will be emitted.
The notion of color applies to our perception of what we see, not to the light itself. When we talk about the color of light, we really mean the color we sense with our eyes and then interpret with our mind.
Thus, while the peak energy is at blue wavelengths, the intensity of all the colors tends to saturate our eyes, leading us to perceive the color white – which includes all wavelengths in the visible spectrum.
Over the last 20 years scientists have discovered that lightning also shoots upward out of the top of thunderstorms into the upper atmosphere. These lightning types have distinctive colors, including red sprites and blue jets.