Preparedness Corner
June 2003
By Paul Vircsik

Hi Neighbors,

Thunder and lightning.  I love it.  We even named our property after it, ďThunder RunĒ.  At first glance thereís nothing all that flashy about lightning.  Except blinding light and a kaboom to follow.  Who hasnít seen it and on the ranch as it is quite common.  But when it strikes, it can rip apart a roof, explode a solid brick wall or start a fire in the forest or your home.  Lightning surging through electrical lines can damage or even destroy valuable electronic equipment.  More importantly, it can kill you.  Even though your chances of being struck are like winning the lotto, it is the second most common weather related cause of death and injury in the United States.

If you are outside when a thunder bumper comes over seek shelter now.  Here are some suggestions from the Lightning Protection Institute:

Lighting generates temperatures up to 90,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  It can travel as far as 40 miles.  The cloud does not have to be overhead for lightning to strike around your position.  Lightning often strikes twice in the same place.  Twice, thrice, etc.  In fact, right before it strikes, everything, you, the grass, trees, put up what is called step leaders of positive energy.  If the negative energy in the air picks your step leader, the connection is made and the energy drains from you up into the sky over and over until gone.  Sometimes 5 or 6 times.  Thatís why lightning appears to flicker.  The noise is the sudden separation and contraction of the air around the strike and the smell, if it isnít you burning up, is nitrous oxide, which then falls to earth in the rain and fertilizes the earth with nitrogen.

Though dangerous, it is beautiful to watch Mother Nature.  I will still tempt fate each time the storm approaches, but will stay mindful of what is going on around me and will make a fast dash back inside if the storm comes close or my hair stands on end.  Stupid maybe, but I sure love the stuff.

See you all soon,

Meet the author: Read about Paul Vircsik's background