MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Subject: Specific lightning phenomenon

Date: Fri Aug 14 07:35:32 1998
Posted by Jesse Salvatore
Grade level: grad (science)
School: FL Institute of Technology
City: Merritt Island State/Province: FL
Country: USA
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 903098132.Es

Yesterday, as a storm approached, I proceeded out to my dock to watch 
the lightning (yes, I know........). I layed out on the dock, propped 
up on my elbows, and watched as the storm approached from the North. 
Strangely, the area of most noise (frequent strong thunder) was due 
North, but the darker clouds, rain, and lightning bolts were due east 
of me. The lightning was not particularly close. Suddenly, lightning 
flashed (I saw no bolt)..... as it did, I felt a charge run down my 
arm, (which was in contact with the wooden dock). It ran down my 
inner forearm, from elbow to wrist, with an accompanying crackling 
(electrical) sound. As it reached the point where my wrist was bent, a 
2 inch spark lept from the heel of my hand (following the straight 
path my arm had established). I can't recall if it arc'd to a nail in 
the dock, but I think it just arc'd into the air. My hair was not 
statically charged, and there were no signs of damage (just a quick 
heart rhythym).

Was I just a victim of sitting in a field of highly ionized air ? It 
certainly could not have been a strike. Is there typically a large 
field of charged air that surrounds bolts of lightning ? Or could it 
have been a lightning path that was forming and then just dissipated ? 
Any theories would help to satiate my curiosity.


Jesse Salvatore

Re: Specific lightning phenomenon

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