Lightning 101


“The time between seeing a lightning flash and hearing the thunder it produces is a rough guide to how far away the lightning was. Normally, thunder can be heard up to 10 miles from the lightning that makes it. Lightning heats the air around it to as much as 60,000 degrees, producing sound waves by the quick expansion of the heated air. Since light travels at 186,000 miles per second, you see the lightning the instant it flashes. But sound, including thunder, travels about a mile in five seconds near the ground. If 15 seconds elapse between seeing a lightning bolt and hearing its thunder, the lightning was about three miles away. Lightning closer than about three miles away is a warning to take shelter immediately. Successive lightning strikes are often two to three miles apart. If the first stroke is three miles away, the next one could hit you.”

How to estimate lightning’s distance
USA Today Weather
Source: Ronald Holle, National Severe Storms Laboratory

© Copyright 2002 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.


“If you feel it coming, dive!

Can you tell when you are about to be struck by lightning? There is often a warning: a feeling similar to what happens when you touch a static electricity generator, or when you take the clothes out of the dryer and separate a staticky sock from a towel. This is to be expected, since lightning starts as static electricity that breaks down the air to neutralize the charge. The result is that people about to be hit can feel the hair on their bodies stand on end and sometimes report a tingling sensation. If you are in a storm and feel this, act immediately. This is all the warning you are going to get. Get as low as you can to the ground. If you are not the highest point around, you are less likely to be hit. If you can find a nearby ditch or draw, get into it. Rolling to the ditch is much smarter than running there. Rolling in something wet will also help to get rid of the charge accumulation on your body. Avoid holding on to anything metal. If you have a tool in your hand, drop it. If you are touching a metal object, get away from it. If you are on a roof, get off. Don’t do anything that will make you a more attractive target for the lightning.”

Everybody talks about lightning and yes, there are things you can do about it
by Albert H. Carlson

© Copyright 1998 Backwoods Home Magazine


Thunder and Lightning

by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Let me drink your lips–
Let me swallow your breath–
Let me taste the perspiration of
Your windtangled skin

Your black hair cascades
In love’s throes–
Your face lightning-thunder
A drunken flower.

[circa 1912]


“Flip flops in the storm”
Taking an ozone break @ Moleskinerie Central

Image: © A.B.F.