Lightning has fascinated people from the start. Some randomly struck, lit fires, and emerged from the air. They thought that it must have some divine origin. Was it Zeus wielding his lightning bolts or Thor striking with his hammer?
Opinions varied, but we can safely say that it is still a fascinating spectacle today. Here are 10 facts about lightning that can be more than a little hair-raising.
Top 10 Most Important Historical Facts About Lightning
10 Hair raising pictures
It is not true that lightning strikes always occur without warning. In 1975, the McQuilken siblings were climbing Moro Rock in California when they noticed something strange – their hair stood on end.
Their big smiles show that they were completely uninvolved and even thought it was funny. They were leaving the top of the hill when suddenly the hail started. But they didn’t leave the site quickly enough. Moments later, lightning struck.
Michael and his brother Sean were thrown to the ground. Others nearby were less fortunate and one man was killed. The siblings were largely unharmed from the events of that day, but they are understandably still concerned about being in a thunderstorm. Another person who was struck by lightning that struck the McQuilkens sued the U.S. government for failing to provide adequate warning of lightning. The lawsuit was dismissed.
The lightning strike is not the only colorful phenomenon that a thunderstorm can cause. Sometimes, high above the clouds, shooting down at lightning speed, large red flares called sprites can be seen protruding into the atmosphere. They can reach heights of nearly 97 kilometers.
Sometimes referred to as “upper atmospheric lightning,” sprites are actually quite different from lightning. While lightning bolts create incredibly high temperatures which are the source of light, sprites are a cold effect. The light they generate appears to resemble that of a fluorescent tube. The exact science of the sprites is not fully understood.
8th Alien lightning
It has long been known that lightning has occurred on planets with atmospheres other than Earth. Radio signals generated by lightning strikes were picked up by probes as they orbited Jupiter and Saturn. There is evidence that lightning can also occur on Venus. It was not until 2009 that NASA took its first lightning images on Saturn.
The Cassini spacecraft discovered a storm on the planet that lasted for several months. During this time, both the tell-tale flashes of light and associated radio emissions were detected that confirmed what they were. With this information, NASA was able to create a video of the storm and even what it might have sounded like based on Saturn’s atmosphere.
7th Beatles’ revenge
The lightning bolt was often viewed as an “act of God”. When Beatles star John Lennon quipped that the band was “more popular than Jesus,” it must have been obvious that God would be against them. The joke was not appreciated by many Christians and protests against the British group soon erupted.
Longview, Texas radio station KLUE hosted a Beatles bonfire at which the band’s records were burned. At least 1,000 people came and thousands more drove by to watch the campfire. It brought a lot of publicity to the station – and notoriety for what happened the next day. It was struck by lightning.
The lightning bolt took the station out of the air, destroyed its equipment and hit the station’s communications director, Phil Ransom. Probably not the news he was hoping to report.
Ransom had previously denounced Lennon’s joke as “anti-Christian comments that would blush wicked Russian leaders”. The station stayed out of the air for some time and no member of the Beatles was struck by lightning.
6th Constant thunderstorm
The night sky of the Catatumbo Delta in Venezuela is not as dark as expected. When the sun goes down, a thunderstorm forms that can generate 280 lightning strikes per hour. This phenomenon occurs around 260 nights per year and has been referred to as the “eternal storm”.
Also known as the “Maracaibo Beacon” (after the lake over which it occurs), given the light it creates. In 1841 an observer described it as “like a continuous lightning bolt and its position so that it directs navigators almost on the meridian of the mouth of the lake as a lighthouse”.
The exact cause of the unusually predictable storm is unknown. Everything from uranium in the surrounding rocks to the amount of methane released from bogs in the area has been suggested as the cause of the storm. Recent work has shown that the winds in the region are key to creating the storm.
In 2010, the storm disappeared for two months, apparently due to a drought in the area. But since then the storm has returned to its usual place.
10 Bizarre lightning behavior
5 Thunderous snow
Thunder and lightning are usually associated with rain. But rain storms aren’t the only times you can hear the clap of thunder and see lightning. Slightly falling snow can make the thunder even more surprising.
In a typical thunderstorm, thunder can travel great distances and still be heard. But the snow in the thunderous snow muffles the sound of the thunder. As a result, only people within 1.6 to 3.2 kilometers will hear the thunder.
Although thunder snow is a relatively rare occurrence, it is more common near the Great Lakes in North America. Thunder snow occurs when warm air begins to rise near the ground. When the warm air rubs against the freezing air high in the atmosphere, it creates a charge in the falling cold air. It’s the cold air that creates the snow. When the cargo is carried down, the conditions are perfect for lightning to strike.
4th Juliane Koepcke
Lightning has hit planes worryingly often. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, each aircraft is hit an average of once a year. Often this goes completely unnoticed even to those on board, as the metal skin of the aircraft conducts the lightning. On Christmas Eve 1971, a plane wasn’t so lucky.
Juliane Koepcke was on a plane over the Amazon when the vehicle hit a storm cloud. Hit by turbulence and surrounded by lightning, the passengers were afraid. Juliane, then 17, was holding her mother’s hand. Her mother said calmly, “This is the end, it’s all over.”
After being struck by lightning, the plane fell into a dive. The next thing she knew was that Juliane fell through the air. Still strapped to her seat, she fell two miles to the ground. Surprisingly, she only suffered a broken collarbone and a few other injuries. She found herself alone and had to walk out of the jungle without anything to eat, except candy that was taken from the rubble.
Juliane was the only survivor of the crash when she was found by locals 11 days after her plane was struck by lightning.
3 King of Kings
Statues of Jesus can be found in most churches. But at Solid Rock Church in Ohio the statue was a bit out of the norm. The statue was about 19 meters high and was called the “Touchdown Jesus” by the locals because it raised its arms like a football referee. Surely such an object should be safe from any act of God?
In 2010 the statue was officially named King of Kingswas struck by lightning. The structure wasn’t as solid as it might have looked. Made of fiberglass and plastic over a metal frame, the statue caught fire when hit. The King of Kings was destroyed.
A pastor in the church talked about how much the statue meant to believers. He stated that it would be rebuilt: “It will be back. But this time we’ll try to find something fireproof. “
Now is the name of a new statue Lux Mundi (“Light of the World”) is written on the site. This statue earned its own nickname for the position of its arms. The locals call it “Hug me Jesus”.
2 Ball lightning
Ball lightning is nothing like the lightning bolt that most people are familiar with. Over the centuries, there have been many reports of glowing gas balls racing around the sky and occasionally invading people’s homes. It is often seen after a traditional lightning strike.
While lightning lasts only a moment, ball lightning can last many seconds, even minutes. It can also travel a great distance. Even being inside is not safe protection – ball lightning has been known to wander through closed windows.
Science has not yet fully explained this curiosity. By chance, a video of ball lightning was recorded with a high-speed camera, allowing scientists to study this phenomenon in detail. However, there is still no consensus on how or why it arises.
1 Lightning protection
Ben Franklin was the toast of Europe when he was sent there as the American ambassador. Famous as a statesman and scientist, he became a fashion figure. His work with electricity and his famous study of lightning fascinated educated and common men alike. People tried to emulate him in ways that even a thinker like Franklin could not have predicted.
In the 1780s, there was a fashion for wearable lightning protection in Paris. People reportedly have lightning rods on their hats and in their umbrellas, just in case Franklin’s lightning bolt ever had a chance to hit them.
However, it wasn’t just in the 18th century that people wanted to be protected from lightning. In 1978 a patent application was filed for a portable lightning rod. The portable lightning rod is essentially a long metal post surrounded by an insulator. It is designed to draw lightning bolts safely away from a person and into the ground.
It also came with a clip-on umbrella to keep the user dry while the lightning rod was in place. It doesn’t seem to have caught on. (How often have you been out in a thunderstorm?) However, the patent has expired if you want to create your own patent.
10 people who were struck by lightning multiple times