Types of Lightning and safety tips.
May 8, 2007 12:19pm CST
Lightning fascinates me. I'm very interested in weather. I didn't know, until I started researching, though, that there were many different types of lightning. Here are the types, and I'll post some safety tips, as well. ~Forked lightning is lightning in which visible branches are present. ~Streak lightning is a bolt that appears to be a single arc shaped line. ~Ribbon lightning is viewed as parallel streaks of light. It's caused when winds separate the strikes of the bolt. ~Chain lightning (also called bead lightning) is charactarized by a bolt that breaks into dotted lines as it fades. ~Ball lightning's appearance is that of a fiery glowing ball (usually in red, yellow, or orange) which floats several feet above the ground. It can be as big as a grapefruit in size. It's also been reported to have been floating within houses and barns. It's unknown why ball lightning occurs or what it's made of. ~Red sprites are charactarized as a dim, reddish-colored burst. They only last for a couple thousandth of a second and can be numerous kilometers wide. They appear suddenly, most likely more than one at a time, and rise up to 90 kilometers above the cloud layer. ~Blue Jets are cone shaped bursts that spring forth from the center of a thunderstorm at speeds up to 6,000 kilometers per hour. They rise up to 50 kilometers above the cloud tops and are brighter than red sprites. ~Elves are bursts of light shaped like a doughnut or saucer. They are about 400 kilometers wide and occur 100 kilometers above the cloud tops. They last for less than one thousandth of a second and are theorized to be green in color. Amazing that there are so many types of lightning, isn't it? Here are some tips to help keep you safe, and refresh your memory, in case you've forgotten them. ~During a storm, stay indoors. If you are caught outside in a severe storm, never stand under any tall objects, such as trees. It's better to lay down in an open field or open area away from any surrounding tall objects. Avoid large bodies of water, and if you're swimming, leave the water immediately. ~Stay away from metal objects such as bicycles or tractors. Never play golf or go fishing during a storm. If you're outside playing games with any metal gear, be sure to rid yourself of the metal objects if a storm starts. ~If you're driving a car, stay inside the car as this is thought to be a safe place, however, avoid touching any metal in the car. ~Don't use the telephone since lightning might strike the telephone poles. ~Avoid using any electrical equipment such as hair dryers, electric razors, microwave ovens, washers, etc. ~~Today, most tall buildings are protected by lightning rods. This concept was first introduced by Benjamin Franklin in 1749. These are metal rods which are placed on top of the highest, most exposed part of the building. A wire leads from the rod, and is buried underground away from the building. This attracts the lightning and conducts it's discharge away from the building into the ground. Aerials and powerlines are protected by using lightning arrestors. These have a space in between the line and the ground wire, which is filled with gas. The lighning discharge causes the gas to ionize, which, in turn, offers a low-resistant exit for the electricity.
• United States
8 May 07
Great post on lightning! I love it. I camp out during a storm to watch my local radio tower get hit. I have experienced ball lightning - and I'd advise you to miss it! Let me tell you, it was like a UFO scene. One moment I was shutting the windows, next I experienced something like the *pop* of an electric light bulb outside between my house and the next door neighbor's house, and then a sudden burst of thunder so loud that it knocked me off my feet! Very scary.
• United States
9 May 07
Thank you for your response, and I bet that was terrifying. Here's my story about it. When I was about 7 or 8, I happened to look out the window and I saw this big orange ball, floating right in front of the window. It scared me, and I looked away really fast, and started to walk away, but my curiousity got the best of me... The second I looked back, it was gone. There wasn't any thunder or anything, so I'm not really sure if it was my imagination, ball lighting, or something paranormal.