Here’s a brief look at what lightning can do when it strikes certain things…
- When lightning strikes a tree: Lightning can definitely do some damage to trees. The University of Minnesota has provided a guide about lightning strikes on trees. Along with a few pieces of useful information, the guide is quoted as saying, “A lightning strike can be a traumatic experience for both the tree and its caretaker.” I guess if it’s your favorite tree.
- When lightning strikes a car: When a bolt of lightning strikes an automobile, the outer surface and frame of the car will carry the electricity. It often discharges through one of the tires leaving the inside occupants unharmed. The image of the car lightning strike is from a man-made lightning bolt. You can see the electricity leaving the car through the front tire.
- When lightning strikes a boat: During any year, boat owners are at a 1.2 in 1,000 risk of their boat being hit by lightning. A steel boat often receives no damage or very minimal damage from lightning strikes. In other cases, boats made of wood or fiberglass can be damaged with cracks, electronic failure and even reports of boats sinking. 33% of all lightning strikes on boats come from Florida.
- When lightning strikes an airplane: You may not know it but lightning strikes on airplanes are quite frequent. It is estimated that lightning strikes each airplane in the U.S. commercial fleet at least once per year. The last plane crash due to a lightning strike happened in 1967 when it caused the fuel tank to explode. The below video shows a jumbo jet taking off during a thunderstorm.
- When lightning strikes animals: Read Death by lightning for giraffes, elephants, sheep and cows by Darren Naish for a fascinating look at animal deaths due to lightning
Other interesting facts about lightning strikes include:
- Pollution causes an increase in lightning strikes. Lightning strikes increase by as much as 25% during the working week.
- A bolt of lightning can heat air around it to 50,000 degrees F.
- A lightning bolt can contain 100,000,000 volts of electricity and be more than 5 miles long.
- There’s an average of 25,000,000 lightning strikes every year.
- On average, 67 people die from lightning strikes in the U.S. every year. This is more deaths than caused by tornadoes and hurricanes.
- A lightning bolt can travel at 60,000 miles per second.
- 80% of all people struck by lightning survive. Although, they often have long-term injuries.