Tuesday, April 11, 2006
When Lightning ,In the light of several weather disturbances that we have been experiencing lately, the possibility of lightning strikes has once again increased. A huge concentration of lightning is certainly a great spectacle to view. But what may look like a grand pyrotechnics show can be very dangerous when the flash strikes close to you. The earth is struck by at least 100 flashes of lightning every second. That totals more than 8.6 million strikes a day. When lightning occurs in great intensity, the sky would seem ablaze. A regular flash of lightning carries around 100 million volts of electricity and reaches a temperature of up to five times hotter than in a crematory furnace. If you are near lighting's path, you could suffer injuries in several ways. For one, you could suffer a direct hit. Or more likely, you could be hit by electrical splashes from a stricken nearby object. Electrical current can also travel through the ground and enter your body through your legs. Electrocution could result, too, if you touch an object that is directly hit. Injuries could range from burns, dizziness, confusion, ruptured eardrums, temporary blindness or paralysis, to amnesia or cardiac arrest. But lightning, although commonly fearsome, has its good side too. It's possible that human beings discovered fire from some early lightning-sparked blazes. Lightning may also help create ozone, which is our protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The thunderstorms, characterized by fierce flashes of lightning, also contribute to the creation of fixed nitrogen, a natural fertilizing substance for plants when carried to the ground by rain. The ancient Greeks are said to have thought of thunder and lightning as manifestations of the god Zeus. To this day, how lightning is created is still not fully understood. There have been continuing research to unravel the mystery surrounding lightning. Yet despite already considerable progress in the study, experts admit that full explanation of the phenomenon may never be reached. Scientists have found that lightning usually begins with concentrated negative electrical charges that collect in the lower part of storm clouds at an altitude of some 20,000 feet. These electrical charges are supposedly created by the collisions of rising ice crystals and falling hailstones. The clash of temperatures between the clouds and the ground below all the more contributes to the sparks. When the lightning sparks heat the air so much, thunder explodes. There is reportedly modern equipment that can detect where lightning would hit within a few seconds. But this gadget is rare or it allows too little time for a corresponding human reaction. Lightning strikes occur in a very quick flash that there is no way to tell whether the next one is going to hit you. On the whole, there is no way the risk of a lightning strike can be completely eliminated. So far, experts can only suggest that we take shelter in a big building or any substantial structure in case of a lightning flurry. Since lightning may strike even if it's not raining, it is advisable to take shelter at the first sound of thunder or if the sky suddenly darkens. If you can't help being outdoors and the weather is bad, it is advisable to keep away from isolated, tall trees and open places. Stay clear of swamps or potholes of water. If you're in a group, avoid clustering together. Electrical current can pass from one person to another even if they're not touching. Also stay clear of metal objects, especially standing poles and fences. They are good conductors. Lightning dancing across the sky is a force to be enjoyed and marveled at-but only from a safe distance. While the probability of a lightning strike may seem remote, it is very real nonetheless. It is always wise to take precautions.