Monthly Archives: January 2010

Man Struck While Washing Dishes

According to The New Zealand Herald, a 37-year-old man was struck by lightning while washing dishes at a YMCA camp in Yarramundi, situated in Sydney, Australia‘s far west, on Jan. 28. The man, who suffered injuries to his neck and shoulder, was treated by paramedics and was expected to be taken to hospital.

When I was in elementary school, one of the first things told to my eager-to-learn class was the danger of showering or using faucets during a lightning storm. Apparently, the 37-year-old man wasn’t warned about the dangers of his actions or he ignored the already known knowledge.

Let’s review…

When lightning strikes, the electrical current follows the path of least resistance down to the ground. Metal is a fantastic conductor.  Therefore, if lightning strikes an unprotected house,  the current will travel through any metal pipes including the tap water pipes (such as those going to your shower and kitchen sink). These pipes contain impurities that help the water conduct electrical current.

In an episode of MythBusters, a reality TV show featured on Discovery that either confirms or busts myths, held a show entitled “Son of a Gun.” This episode featured confirming or busting myths related to lightning including: showering during a thunderstorm and using the phone during a thunderstorm. Below is their finding, according to an annotated account provided by kwc.org.

You can get electrocuted from a phone or in the shower from a lighting strike to your house: confirmed

For a full listing and explanation, visit http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2005/03/mythbusters_son_of_a_gun_showe.html… and be smart, stay away from your pipes during storms, your dirty dishes (or body) can wait.

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Wise Words

Many injuries and deaths can be prevented through an understanding of the dangers of power lines, electrical appliances, extension cords, and lightning.
Richard Neal, American Politician

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Volcanic Lightning?

This may shock you… I’ve never been the girl interested in science. Yes, surprising – I know – especially coming from a girl who writes a science/weather related blog. Actually while attending elementary school, high school, and even college, science was my least favorite subject. However, it was the severe weather that always interested me – the science of tornadoes, volcanoes, and even lightning.

Keeping the interest alive, I recently found an article entitled “Scientists Exploring ‘Volcanic Lightning‘” featured on FOX News.com. The article states that scientists are studying the connection between volcanoes and lightning.

Volcano seismologist Stephen McNutt at the University of Alaska Fairbanks‘s Geophysical Institute saw strange spikes in the seismic data from the Mount Spurr eruption in 1992, which ultimately sparked a plethora of research.

Ultimately McNutt and his team found that when a volcano erupts (like Mount Redoubt which was used in their study), lightning is emitted at a higher rate than during an actual thunderstorm.

As told to FOX News.com, McNutt states, “At the moment the eruption started, there were these sparks of lightning coming from the vent of Redoubt that only lasted 1 to 2 milliseconds. This was a different kind of lighting that we have never seen before.”

Seismologists¬†are still learning how lightning differs in different mediums. While the newly acquired knowledge is fascinating… it doesn’t change this science misanthrope.

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