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Do you know what it feels like 5 seconds before your about to be struck by lightning?

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  • Do you know what it feels like 5 seconds before your about to be struck by lightning?

    I was working in the shop when I notice it is getting dark outside, the wind is picking up and I hear thunder off in the distance. I decide it is time to take a break so off to the house I go to get a glass of ice tea and a snack. It is about 50 ft from the shop to the house and I was about 25 ft from the house when I felt all the hair on my arms and neck stand up from static electricity. Lucky I know what that means so I RAN FAST and ducked under the edge of the house roof right under the metal gutters, then BOOM there was a bright blinding flash and it sounded like 20 sticks of dynamite exploded at the same time. I didn't know if lightning struck the metal gutter on the house or the shop or the tree next to the driveway but it struck something very close. Lightning flash and BOOM were both at the exact same time.

    If you have ever walked past your TV and had all the hair on your arms stand up from static electricity that is what it feels like as lightning is building up in the sky and about to strike the ground.

    After the storm was over I went outside to examine things and I notice q stripe of tree bark is pealed off all the way down to an 8 ft metal fence post that is leaning up against the side of the tree. The tree is 15 ft from where I was standing under the gutter. I can see lightning came down the side of the tree then followed the metal fence post the rest of the way to ground.

    If your every outside and you feel static charge building up on you run fast or lay down on the ground fast you only have a few seconds maybe 3 to 5 seconds.

  • #2
    To Gary's experience I will add my own lesser incident. I was walking between my house and barn in a light rain, so I was carrying an umbrella with a metal frame. Without warning, lightning struck some distance off, but close enough to induce some current in the umbrella and a spark, much like that from a spark plug wire, jumped about a half-inch from the shaft of the umbrella to the thumb on the hand that was holding the plastic umbrella handle. Not much of a poke, but had the lightning strike been closer....?
    Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
    ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

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    • #3
      I had my hair stand on end,too. I was out at the mailbox. Lost no time getting back inside!! Lightening did not strike right then,but there was definitely a strong static charge pulling my hair straight up.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by gwilson
        I had my hair stand on end,too. I was out at the mailbox. Lost no time getting back inside!! Lightening did not strike right then,but there was definitely a strong static charge pulling my hair straight up.
        Me too, but I was at the top of a 160 foot ham radio tower putting up a new antenna with a friend. There was no lightning within miles, but having the hair stand up all over your body led to a near world record coming down a 160 foot tower.....
        TexasTurnado

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        • #5
          Lightening was the one thing that I was scared of when I was a Lineman. Absolutely no control over it, eh? I remember tying in power lines and we'd tap the ends of the armor rod on the top of the pole to get them all even before wrapping them on the conductor. There was a few times you could hear the top ends buzzing from the static charge when there was lightening off in the distance. I remember one time we were working out of an insulated double bucket truck energizing a mile of new three phase line and doing the work with 40Kv rubber gloves. We were doing up the last crimp and keeping an eye on a storm we could see on the horizon when there was a strike off in the distance. Both me and the person in the other bucket were almost put to our knees by muscular contraction. It felt like a big hand was squeezing us...made us both grunt! Every muscle in our bodies contracted! We figured it had to be induction from the strike on to the three phase line we were in contact with. A bit surprising considering the distance the strikes were from us.
          Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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          • #6
            Years ago a mate of mine was working on the buses when one was hit by a lightening strike.

            The driver and the three passengers were hurt but my friend wasn't.

            We put it down to the fact he was a bad conductor..................
            .

            Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.



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            • #7
              Murfreesboro, TN you say,
              I was in Pulaski,TN and got lightning shocked twice at different times while trying to open the door on my truck. Truck had metal handles, Touched the handle right before a strike hit about 150 yards away. Knocked the sh..ht out out me. Two years apart between strikes. I hate that town.
              Ted

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              • #8
                My oldest son Josh went to the scout reservation called Philmont in New Mexico. He & a friend climbed to the highest point where there is a steel rod. They were 30 or 40' away when it was struck. They weren't supposed to be there & it almost scared them to death. They stuck close to the group from then on. Count your blessings Gary, that was close!
                "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
                world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
                country, in easy stages."
                ~ James Madison

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by John Stevenson
                  We put it down to the fact he was a bad conductor..................
                  Lucky he wasn't a copper then...

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                  • #10
                    Coming down the river while working in a aluminum boat a storm started to come up. We had about 5 miles to go and I had to cross to the other side of the river at least once to get back to the truck. Racing back to the truck we were watching the storm inch ever closer to the river and every lighting strike was going strait down to the ground. 1/4 mile from the truck I saw a lightning bolt on the opposite bank a couple hundred yards in. I figured this was best time to make the crossing since it seems most of the time the lightning was spaced out and I should have enough time to get across before it strikes again. Half way across a bolt hit the water within 15' of the boat and a branch off the main bolt came within 3-4" of my dads hand that was sitting next to me. Even though we were traveling 30-35mph it seemed as though we were standing still while the lightning struck. We were in full rubber and insulation because it was below freezing, we think that is why we didn't feel anything.
                    Andy

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                    • #11
                      If you are caught out in a storm do NOT lay down on the ground. Put your feet close together and squat as low as you can without touching the ground with your hands. If you lay down you can be killed by what is called "step potential". When the lightning strikes the ground the voltage potential fans out around the strike for many feet. If two parts of your body are touching the ground with some distance between them the potential difference between those parts can be tens of thousands of volts.

                      The same applies to your feet on the ground. If they are wide spread the same thing can happen. It also applies to downed high voltage power lines. You don't have to touch one to be electrocuted by step potential. Keep well away from down power lines.

                      BTW, we have a really good thunderstorm passing over right now. I sure hope it doesn't hit an
                      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Evan
                        If you are caught out in a storm do NOT lay down on the ground. Put your feet close together and squat as low as you can without touching the ground with your hands. If you lay down you can be killed by what is called "step potential". When the lightning strikes the ground the voltage potential fans out around the strike for many feet. If two parts of your body are touching the ground with some distance between them the potential difference between those parts can be tens of thousands of volts.

                        The same applies to your feet on the ground. If they are wide spread the same thing can happen. It also applies to downed high voltage power lines. You don't have to touch one to be electrocuted by step potential. Keep well away from down power lines.

                        BTW, we have a really good thunderstorm passing over right now. I sure hope it doesn't hit an
                        This is correct the ground acts like a resistor. I was watching some hikers on the TV show NOVA a thunderstore came up and they all squatted down with their feet close together and they all pulled a telescoping lightning rod out of their back pack for protection. The 6 of them set there with their short lightning rod under their rain jacket waiting for the storm to move on. Lightning rod was suppose to be faraday cage protection. I would not like the idea of holding a lightning rod in a storm.

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                        • #13
                          Yes I know what it feels like. It's happened twice, the most memorable about 15 years ago.

                          I was delivering fuel to a large gravel crushing operation. The tank was a large above ground 5,000 gal diesel tank perched on a large metal stand.
                          Someone had knocked the metal stairs down earlier that day with a loader, so in order to fill the tank I had to improvise.

                          I parked the tanker as close to the tank stand as possible and then bridged the rest with an aluminum ladder between the top of my trailer to the tank to be filled.
                          After climbing to the top I proceeded filling the diesel tank, while watching an approaching thunder storm coming up the valley. It looked like a good one and I thought to myself, I'll be out of here before I get wet.
                          All of a sudden every hair on my body stood up!
                          I thought...oh sh*t. At that moment an ear splitting crack and blinding flash told me I was still alive. The lightening had struck a tree just behind and up the bank from the diesel tank.

                          With me perched on a 63,000 liter aluminum tanker, carrying both gas and diesel, plus an aluminum ladder leaning on a steel tank, I was one lucky SOB!
                          Should have bought a lotto ticket on the way home, that's as close to winning the big one I've ever come.
                          Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                          Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                          Location: British Columbia

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                          • #14
                            Once I witnessed lightning striking the ground from the airplane. What an amazing sight, looked like a giant plasma sphere that engulfed the point of the strike.

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                            • #15
                              I think I've seen my share of close lightning strikes. We lived in a district called Highlands for a time in what is now called Zimbabwe. During the 'season', lightning would regularly strike the ground rod on the power pole in front of our place. When you saw the strike, you'd have about a half second to brace yourself for the thunder. Never did feel any tingling, but a friend of mine has, and my sister got hit by lightining once. Struck her umbrella, then apparently went off the end of the handle and into the ground, instead of going through her. When she got home, there was a call on her answering machine asking if she was ok.
                              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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