Lightning is one of the most beautiful displays in nature. It is also one of the most deadly natural phenomena known to man. With bolt temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun and shockwaves beaming out in all directions, lightning is a lesson in physical science and humility. Lightning, the thunderbolt from mythology, has long been feared as an atmospheric flash of supernatural origins: the great weapon of the gods. The Greeks both marveled and feared lightning as it was hurled by Zeus. For the Vikings, lightning was produced by Thor as his hammer struck an anvil while riding his chariot across the clouds. In the East, early statues of Buddha show him carrying a thunderbolt with arrows at each end. Indian tribes in North America believed that lightning was due to the flashing feathers of a mystical bird whose flapping wings produced the sound of thunder.
Today, scientific rather than mystical techniques are used to explain lightning with experimental procedures replacing intuitive concepts. Yet, we remain in awe of lightning which still shines with its mystery, and rightly so. Each year, lightning is responsible for the deaths of a hundred or so people, injuries to several hundred more, and millions of dollars in property damage, in the United States alone.
Lightning showed how vulnerable we are to the power of Mother Nature. Spring and summer are the peak season for the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lightning safety information shows that “an average of 49 people are killed each year by lightning. Knowing lightning entered the house or building and how to stay safe during a storm can help you protect against injuries and personal property damage.
There are three main ways lightning enters the house – a direct hit through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure and through the ground. Regardless of the entry method, once in the structure, lightning can travel systems for electrical, phone, plumbing and radio/television reception. Lightning may also extend through metal wires or bars in concrete walls and floors.
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