Did you know archive

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.
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Upside-down lightning strikes exist and pose a great threat to wind turbines!

Upward lightning strikes initiate on the ground and head skyward. These discharges, which usually begin at the top of tall and slender structures, pose a real risk for wind turbines. An EPFL study analyzes the mechanisms underlying this poorly understood phenomenon.
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…about the Rochester ice storm?

The 1991 Ice Storm was one of the most damaging storms in Rochester history. It all began 25 years ago on Thursday. We took a look back with a woman who experienced it herself. For residents in our area that were around, the ice storm that began 25 years ago was an event unlike most had ever seen before and the memories of that storm are still as vivid and fresh as they were in 1991.
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Lightning protection tents exist!

The probability of getting struck by lightning is statistically very rare, but alas, storm-attributed deaths and injuries stretch into the low thousands on an annual basis. About 96% of those struck were in open environments when hit. A majority — as you may expect — come from frequent participators in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and climbing. Industrial designer kama jania’s ‘bolt’ line of tents was created to increase the safety of those unfortunate to be in the wrong place when the weather turns.
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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.
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Almost half of drivers speed to avoid hail storms!

According to research from RACQ nearly half of Queensland, Australia drivers will speed to avoid hail damage to their cars. The motoring club and insurer's research revealed 47% of motorists admitted to speeding to avoid hail damage to their cars - up from 44% last year. The research also found female drivers were more likely to speed (54.2%) than males (52%) when a storm hits.
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Google lost data by lightning strikes!

On 2015, during an August thunderstorm, Google lost data by lightning strikes! Google says data has been wiped from discs at one of its data centres in Belgium - after the local power grid was struck by lightning four times.
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Animals can have storm phobia!

According to WbMD, storm phobia is very real and should be taken seriously. Loyal masters are often awaken in the middle of the night – not from the thunder – but from the uninvited pet jumping in the bed looking for comfort from the storm. Cases of storm phobia in pets can be much more severe and should not be ignored. They say some pets have been known to “claw through drywall, chew carpets, or break through windows in their escalating panic.”
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...what a moonbow is?

Moonbows, also known as lunar rainbows, are the dimmer cousin of more common daylight rainbows, made possible from the refraction of raindrops by moonlight, rather than sunlight. Moonbows are so rare because moonlight is not usually bright, and the alignment of conditions needed for them don't happen often. According to Atmospheric Optics, a bright near-full moon must be less than 42 degrees above the horizon, illuminating rain on the opposite side of a dark sky.
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..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"
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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.
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Tiny lightning bolt explosions can vaporise the moon’s thin soil

Mini-lightning may flash in the coldest craters on the moon, melting and vapourising soil. All that sparking could have altered the surface as much as impacts from incoming rocks and dust. The outer layer of the moon is a sort of history book recording the interactions between the moon and the rest of the solar system. To correctly interpret that history, we need to understand the mechanisms that shape it.
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On April 3, 1856 a lightning strike obliterated 4000 people in Rhodes, Greece.

On April 3, 1856 a lightning strike obliterated 4000 people. The lightning stroke the Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes, Greece, which was used as an ammo storage, resulting in a massive explosion that killed 4,000 people in and around the Palace, reducing it to a pile of rubble that sat on Rhodes for almost a century.
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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.
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Earthquake lightning?

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
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Volcano eruptions can produce lightning!

Mount Etna spectacularly exploded on the 3rd of December 2015 for the first time in two years, sending a plume of volcanic ash scorching through the sky. The cloud was lit up with the astonishing sight of a "dirty thunderstorm", which causes lightning to streak through a cloud of ash. This natural wonder occurs when tiny fragments of rock, ash and ice rub together to produce static electricity.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Struck by lightning but died drawing.

A 21-year-old man drowned at sea following a lightning strike as he was returning to shore in a boat after a fishing trip on Sunday, 17/01/2016. Ng Young Ching had apparently fallen into the sea in the vicinity of the Sungai Ayam Lighthouse in Senggarang near Batu Pahat at about 5pm as he was returning to the Sungai Ayam fishing jetty, Batu Pahat Maritime Base maritime enforcement chief Lt Commander (Maritime) Muhammad Zulkarnain Abdullah said yesterday.
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