Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Jagged Look at Lightning 1

We Wisconsinites were supposed to be blessed with a spring snow last weekend. What’s up with that? It’s April. Where are the showers promised in Thomas Tusser’s rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers”?

After five months, I’m weary of snow. If we can’t have sun, I prefer rain, most often in the form of those promised showers. I like thunderstorms, too. And lightning fascinates me.

Mind you, I realize lightning is dangerous. About 100 Americans die every year when struck by lightning. Lightning has been known to kill more people in a year than hurricanes or tornadoes. And those who live after being struck by lightning often suffer long-term consequences, such as memory loss.

So, what I’m recommending is studying lightning from inside a safe harbor -- in your home. Or learning about lightning from libraries or Internet surfing.
To help you start, I’ve devised a True and False quiz. Make your guesses in the Comments and next Thursday, just a short week away, I’ll share the answers.

Header from samulli
1. In the United States, Florida and the Rocky Mountain region get the most lightning. T or F?
Rubber-soled shoes or rubber car tires will provide protection against getting hit by lightning. T or F?
2. When you’re outside in a lightning storm, lie flat on the ground. You’re safest close to the earth. T or F?
3. If you find yourself in a lightning storm, run to the nearest tall tree and hide under its branches. T or F?
4. The temperature of a lightning flash is hotter than the surface of the sun. T or F
5. Each flash of lightning may actually be 3 or 4 different strikes of lightning targeting the same place in rapid succession. T or F?
6. Lightning causes thunder. When a lightning bolt travels from the cloud to the ground, it actually opens up a little hole in the air, called a channel. Once the light is gone, the air collapses back into the hole and creates a sound wave we hear as thunder. T or F?
7. You can find out how far away a storm is from you by counting the seconds between a lightning flash and the clap of thunder. Every time you get to 5, the storm is a mile away. So at 10, it’s 2 miles away.
8. If you don’t hear thunder, you’re safe in a rainstorm. T or F?
9. Lightning seldom hits the same place twice. T or F?
10. Got the last one right? Then this should be no challenge. Lightning strikes the Empire State building an average of 100 times every year. T or F?
11. Being in a car is safe during a storm because cars have rubber tires and will cause the electricity to travel into the ground. T or F?
12. You have a 1 in 600,000 chance of being struck by lightning. T or F?

I’m guessing you like watching storms, too. And watching lightning. Do you know a lot about our stunning electrical shows in the skies? Test yourself. Take the quiz. Record your answers in the Comments. I’ll check in during the day and let you know how you score. Go ahead; you’ll enjoy it.


  1. way too early for my brain to try to work. :) Good 13.

  2. I only know that I shouldn't stand under a tree ! We don't have thunderstorms so often and mostly I am safe at home.

  3. No way I'm testing myself. I already know I'm a blonde. But I'll come back for the answers.

  4. Carmen and Alice,
    Hey, I just appreciate your visit. I'm glad you'll be coming back next week for the answers.

  5. Gattina,
    Yeah, standing under a tree does sound like a bad idea. Thanks for visiting.

  6. I'm quite terrified of lightening. I'm too terrified to take your quiz! But this was a great T13, and I'll be back for the answers.

  7. Julia,
    Yeah, lightning can be a scary thing.

  8. Hi, I have some answers for you.
    Am I right?

  9. Hey Anonymous,
    You've got over half the questions right. Good job.

  10. I think #1 is a trick would THINK it's FL, but since you tossed CO in there, I'm going with CO!

  11. We were fascinated by the lightning in the US. Our lightning is sheet lightning, which is different, and we don't get a lot.
    I know some of the answers.

  12. I answered a bunch of them with "true??" I'll have to pop back for the answers.

  13. I love your list because lightning fascinates me.

    I love to watch a storm with lighning save inside my home!

  14. Well, I'm looking forward to the answers - but I'm pretty sure about the counting to the thunderclap - although I thought it was one full second for each mile away. It does seem to work when I do it AND a friend who's a forest ranger swears by this method!

    Could you send a little of that lightening over to my place and target these darn Wild Peeps? Yes, I plotted 13 Ways to Murder a Wild Peep, but I have to catch them before I can dispatch them and they're pretty fast for airballs of sugar!

  15. Janet, I'm not supposed to tell, but apparently both places are favorite spots for lightning.

  16. Celticlibrarian,
    Yes, lots of the answers are true.

  17. Shelley,
    Where are you from? Sheet lightning that sounds cool.

  18. janetfaye,
    I'm with you. I like to watch lightning from inside.

  19. PopArt Diva,
    You could be right. I'll share what I found out with you next week. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. I love thunderstorms and have seen some beauties over the years. Wish I had been into photography when we lived in the Dandenong Ranges. The storms I witnessed there were like nothing I have seen before or since. :)

  21. Eaton,
    That's right. You take the best pictures. I've never heard of the Dandenong Ranges, but I'll take your word on the lightning storms.

  22. I try to stay indoors during lightening storms. The worst I ever experienced was in the mountains of Austria at Insbruk

  23. Ooh...I love thunderstorms, especially at night, as long as I'm not caught out in them.

  24. Diane,
    I think staying inside and watching lightning storms is a great idea.

  25. Heather,
    I love thunderstorms too. Thanks for dropping by.