What Is Lightning?

Cloud-to-ground lightning bolts are a common phenomenon-about 100 strike Earth’s surface every single second-yet their power is extraordinary. Each bolt can contain up to one billion volts of electricity. This enormous electrical discharge is caused by an imbalance between positive and negative charges.

Lightning Facts, Lightning Information, Lightning Videos ... environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/lightning-profile

A lightning bolt is a channel of negative charge, called a stepped leader that zigzags downward in roughly 50 yard segments in a forked pattern. Invisible to the human eye, a lightning strike shoots to the ground in less time than it takes to blink. As it nears the ground, it is attracted to a channel of positive charge, a streamer, reaching up, normally through something tall, such as a tree, house, or telephone pole. When the oppositely charged leader and streamer connect, a powerful electrical current begins flowing. A return strike of bright luminosity travels about 60,000 miles per second back towards the cloud. A flash consists of one or as many as 20 return strokes. A flicker is the process rapidly repeating itself along the same path. The actual diameter of a lightning channel is 1-2 inches. There are 3 types of lightning strikes: IC - intra-cloud (inside the cloud); CC - cloud to cloud and

CG - cloud to ground.


History of Lightning

Lightning has always astounded and amazed mankind. It has been written about in historical and mythological approaches. Lightning Gods are referred to in the Bible, the Quran and numerous other religious testaments and mythology books. The spot where lightning strikes is considered sacred and worship temples were constructed on these sites to pay homage to the Gods.


Zeus is the Greek "King of Gods", the father of Gods and men. He is symbolized by the thunderbolt, eagle, oak and bull. In Scandinavia, Norse mythology follows Thor, who tossed lightning bolts at his enemies. He was a hammer-wielding God of lightning, thunder, storms and oak. He was symbolized as strength, hallowing and fertility. The Hindu religion follows Indra the God of heaven, rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt and rides a white elephant, Airavata. Native American mythology is of Thunderbird, whose enormous wings made thunder and wind and lightning flashed from his eyes when he blinked. He resided on the top of a mountain and was a servant of the Great Spirit. Impundulu is the African lightning Bird-God.




Lightning during a snow storm!

Follow this link to a rare Mother Nature phenomenon: 



How Lightning Enters

A single bolt of lightning can carry up to 100 million volts of electricity with temperatures up to 50,000°F. There are an average of 66 deaths and 1,000 injuries each year from lightning strikes. The nfpa.org reports that during 2004-2008, U.S. fire departments responded to approx. 25,000 fires started by lightning. These fires caused an annual average of $407 million in direct property damage reported by the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory. 8 people out of 10 who are struck by lightning survive.


A direct lightning strike to a structure can rip through roofs and chimneys, explode brick and concrete and ignite fires.  An indirect or secondary lightning strike to a nearby tree or power line can induce unwanted surges into a home. Surge Arresters are also included in an effective lightning system installation to protect against indirect paths coming through phone, cable and computer modem lines, as well as roof projections such as weather vanes, antennas and satellite dishes. Home extras like irrigation systems, invisible fences and electric gates can provide a low resistance pathway for lightning's destructive energy. 


How the System Works:

Lightning protection systems provide a specified path on which lightning can travel. The destructive power of the lightning strike is directed safely into the ground, leaving the home and occupants unharmed. A properly installed lightning protection system dissipates the dangerous electrical discharge to eliminate the chance of fire or explosion of non-conductive materials (wood, brick, mortar, tile, etc.) 


Who Can Install:

Lightning protection systems are not a do-it-yourself project. Only experienced and reputable UL-Listed (United Laboratories) and LPI (Lightning Protection Institute) certified lightning protection contractors should install lightning protection systems. Qualified specialists use UL-listed materials and ensure that methods of installations comply with nationally recognized safety standards of LPI, NFPA and UL. Favale Lightning Protection, Inc. is UL Listed and is LPI Master Installer/Designer Certified.


Key Elements of the System:

1. Air Terminals (lightning rods) 

spaced according to safety standards

2. Down Conductors - cables (copper or aluminum)

connecting the terminals to grounds

3. Bonding - clamp joining metallic bodies and roof components

to ensure conductivity

4. Grounds - minimum of 2 ground rods at least 10 feet deep

in the earth

5. Surge Arresters - installed at electrical panels,

provided for in-house electronics


Can Lightning Strike The Same Place Twice?


or almost the same spot contrary to folk wisdom. It could be that something about the site makes it more likely to be struck or that there is so much lightning within a short period of time, eventually lightning will strike somewhere near a previous lightning strike. The empire state building gets struck several times each year.




Lightning Protection offers Peace of Mind





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