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Old 14 August 2010, 04:26 PM
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Icon27 Don't stand near a window during a thunderstorm

I've always heard that you should not stand near a window when it's lightning outside. Never heard why though. I can't imagine being struck by lightning when you're inside a building. Is this just some parental scare tactic?
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Old 14 August 2010, 04:45 PM
DaGuyWitBluGlasses DaGuyWitBluGlasses is offline
 
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I believe more people are struck by lightning inside than outside. (Not proportionally though, it's still safer to be inside)

Lightning can travel through plumbing, tv antennas, phone lines, cable, etc.

As for the window, i think a bigger danger would be from the window shattering if lightning strikes nearby:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/ar...ectid=10380742
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Old 14 August 2010, 04:46 PM
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Theoretically, you could be. You're also supposed to avoid water and the phone. But I'm from Oklahoma, so I take very few precautions for thunderstorms. Otherwise I'd have spent a big part of the year rather dirty from not showering.
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Old 14 August 2010, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Avril View Post
Theoretically, you could be. You're also supposed to avoid water and the phone. But I'm from Oklahoma, so I take very few precautions for thunderstorms. Otherwise I'd have spent a big part of the year rather dirty from not showering.
The hottest part of the year, too.
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Old 14 August 2010, 09:03 PM
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Not really. The most storms come in the spring and fall. But there are some in the summer and winter as well. I would mostly have been not showering for the months of May and October.
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Old 14 August 2010, 09:52 PM
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I see. Summers in Ohio are very stormy.
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Old 14 August 2010, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avril View Post
Not really. The most storms come in the spring and fall. But there are some in the summer and winter as well.
Really? I don't think this is right -- thunderstorms were very common in summer when I was growing up in PA, and there have been a ton of them here in MD this season. Wikipedia says they are most common in spring and summer, but I'm having some difficulty in finding a more reliable source.
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Old 14 August 2010, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Avril View Post
Not really. The most storms come in the spring and fall. But there are some in the summer and winter as well. I would mostly have been not showering for the months of May and October.
Roger that. We are desperate for a few drops. The ground's like iron.
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Old 14 August 2010, 10:37 PM
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Further east, we're subject to strong thunderstorms, but we don't get the summer drought thing.
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Old 15 August 2010, 01:24 AM
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When I was growing up here in West Virginia, my mom always unplugged the cable from TV and kept us from using phones during thunderstorms, including the cordless model, and we tried to avoid showering or bathing. I never heard anything about windows, though. We were actually somewhat encouraged to take in the visual spectacle of it. We lived in a valley and high winds were pretty rare in our part of the neighborhood (though a freak massive gust wiped out my parents' 100+ year-old oak tree last week), so I usually watched storms from the porch in order to get a better view of the lightning. Walking around in the yard would have been one thing, but being near under a roof, any roof, was perfectly acceptable. She doesn't disconnect the cable anymore, probably because it is such a PITA. I still don't understand the deal with cordless phone.

When I lived in Ohio, the winds were a great deal stronger. I spent one particularly severe storm in the stock room of Radio Shack, as there were reports of tornadoes I felt there was a genuine danger of the storefront glass breaking from flying debris. The customers had all left to avoid the weather before it hit, so as the lone employee, I locked up and headed for the middle of the building. I haven't seen or heard wind like that before or since, so I tend to think "neat" instead of "danger" when I see storms coming.
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Old 15 August 2010, 01:57 AM
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I do lightning protection on industrial buildings as a part of my work, and there are guidelines for lightning protection and the safe zone. Being inside a building, one is generally assumed to be safe, but it's a good idea to stay away from the plumbing or electrical system. The thing about the plumbing is that plumbing pipes are generally used for electrical grounding, and a lightning strike near the house can elevate the ground potential and cause current flow through someone making contact to it. I've heard of people being electrocuted through the phone line, but a cordless phone would not put a person in danger. Unplugging the phone and cable and expensive electronic devices, like TVs, unless they are plugged into a surge suppressing power bar, are good ideas too.

But as for being threatened by lightning near a window? The only reasonable threat is the pressure wave from a nearby lightning strike breaking the window, but even a metal window frame would not be a really risky situation.
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  #12  
Old 15 August 2010, 03:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnStorm View Post
I've always heard that you should not stand near a window when it's lightning outside. Never heard why though. I can't imagine being struck by lightning when you're inside a building.
My coworker lost her uncle to a lightning strike. He was sleeping on the couch near an open window during a thunder storm.

A building has wires which conduct the lightning to the ground. An open window does not and the metal inside could attract the lightning, especially if the window itself has metal.

The National Weather Service also recommends closing the window Updated AMS Recommendations for Lightning Safety - 2002
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  #13  
Old 15 August 2010, 06:33 PM
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It is possible to be killed or badly injured by shrapnel from nearby objects that are struck by lightning and not only to be directly struck by lightning yourself. Standing under or near a tree in a lightning storm is dangerous at least partly because the trunk of the tree can explode if the tree is struck by lightning (Or else it can fall on you). That said, lightning doesn't necessarily or simply strike simply in a a single spot, but a large area is affected with very strong electric fields and currents, with little jaggy bits of ionized air sicking out all around carrying massive amounts of current.

It is often wrongly said that electricity follows the path of least resistance. That is absolutely not true. Electricity follows ALL paths, but the current flow is more where the resistance is lower (Otherwise only the one single lightbulb with the lowest resistance in your house would ever light at one time...). So if lightning strikes nearby, even if it doesn't strike you directly, some of the current can still flow to you and hurt you.

A lightning rod protects because is it MUCH less resistance than you are, so MUCH more lightning flows through it and not you. And it diverts the ion/plasma trail the lightning follows. The little metal in a window frame is nothing, I think the lightning barely notices it except if it already has a plasma trail a few inches away.

In any case, I think I'll still watch the storms from the window, at least most of the time anyway.
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Old 15 August 2010, 07:22 PM
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My gramma M would not talk on the phone during storms, but although she was mom's stepmother, mom never enforced that rule in our house. Should be safe on a cordless phone, though, I would think.

Mom once got a nasty shock from a light switch during a thunderstorm. I don't think the lightning had actually hit the line, though; she would have been hurt much worse if it had. As it was, her tongue swelled up, and she scared the crap out of her brother because she came in his room and woke him up, but couldn't answer him when he asked who was there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elwood View Post
When I lived in Ohio, the winds were a great deal stronger. I spent one particularly severe storm in the stock room of Radio Shack, as there were reports of tornadoes I felt there was a genuine danger of the storefront glass breaking from flying debris. The customers had all left to avoid the weather before it hit, so as the lone employee, I locked up and headed for the middle of the building. I haven't seen or heard wind like that before or since, so I tend to think "neat" instead of "danger" when I see storms coming.
I understand why you felt that way, and took the actions you did, but high straight-line winds are not, AFAIK, a good predictor of tornadoes. Most survivor accounts I've read start with a calm, still day.

Green skies, OTOH, are a pretty good sign of trouble.
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Old 15 August 2010, 07:49 PM
Ellestar Ellestar is offline
 
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In my first apartment, I had a bed up against the window. I would often sleep with my arms thrown over my head and pressed up against the window.

One night, a huge clap of thunder woke me up out a dead sleep. My arms were pressed against the window and I was convinced for a minute that I had been struck by lightning because my arms were all tingly. But then I woke up a little more and realized that tingly arms always happened when I slept like that and I should try a new position.
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Old 15 August 2010, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rujasu View Post
Really? I don't think this is right -- thunderstorms were very common in summer when I was growing up in PA, and there have been a ton of them here in MD this season. Wikipedia says they are most common in spring and summer, but I'm having some difficulty in finding a more reliable source.
As otherwise indicated, I was talking about what things were like in Oklahoma. Here the rain is much different--and I scoff at what passes for a "storm."

"Take your immediate tornado precautions" is always said in a sort of bored voice there, with the full knowledge that most people probably will look out the window, shrug, and go on with their lives. Gary England got really excited during the May 3, 1999 storm and yelled at us to "Get underground!" but that was sort of a special case. Lightning? Meh.
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Old 16 August 2010, 03:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Induktionator View Post
It is often wrongly said that electricity follows the path of least resistance. That is absolutely not true. Electricity follows ALL paths, but the current flow is more where the resistance is lower (Otherwise only the one single lightbulb with the lowest resistance in your house would ever light at one time...). So if lightning strikes nearby, even if it doesn't strike you directly, some of the current can still flow to you and hurt you.
Electricity follows the path of least resistance in proportion to the inverse ratio of those resistances - such is the result of Ohm's law and Kirchhoff's current law. However, consider that the normal resistance of air is such that it takes roughly 3000V per centimetre of air, for the air to break down and conduct. When the ion streams connect from earth to clouds, the ionized channel acts as, in effect, a super conductor. Millions of amps flow in a very, very short time along a fairly narrow channel. That channel may be up to a few feet in diameter, but outside that, there is a sharp break between an area with current flow, and an area without any current flow. The dangerous thing about being near (but not quite beneath) a lightning strike is the explosion which occurs from super-heated air expanding in a fraction of a second. In addition to that, there is the fact that all that current flowing to ground will elevate the "ground potential" at the point of the lightning strike, falling off with distance from it in all directions. If your feet are apart and perpendicular to those equipotential lines, you'll have current flow between your feet - possibly enough to kill you.

If lightning strikes a poorly conducting object like a tree or telephone pole, the strike will send a pressure wave through the object, breaking down its insulation and turning it into a conductor. In the process, that object can fly apart - brick and mortar constructions are particularly vulnerable to this.

Quote:
A lightning rod protects because is it MUCH less resistance than you are, so MUCH more lightning flows through it and not you. And it diverts the ion/plasma trail the lightning follows. The little metal in a window frame is nothing, I think the lightning barely notices it except if it already has a plasma trail a few inches away.
In any case, I think I'll still watch the storms from the window, at least most of the time anyway.
A lightning rod is supposed to attract the ion trail and provide a low resistance path to ground, protecting not only the vulnerable non-conducting parts of a building, but everything beneath it. The design criteria is that if you draw a 150 foot diameter sphere tangent to the ground and the points of the lightning protection system, any point beneath it is considered protected. May not be 100% guaranteed in reality, but this is how it is designed.
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Old 16 August 2010, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
My gramma M would not talk on the phone during storms, but although she was mom's stepmother, mom never enforced that rule in our house. Should be safe on a cordless phone, though, I would think.
Yep, cordless and mobile phones are safe.
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Old 16 August 2010, 03:06 PM
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[QUOTE=Elwood;1285383]When I was growing up here in West Virginia, my mom always unplugged the cable from TV QUOTE]

I remember those pre-cable, pre surge protector days!
Growing up, I always figured that lightening would somehow shatter the window (as mentioned earlier), but that never happened.
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Old 16 August 2010, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avril View Post
"Take your immediate tornado precautions" is always said in a sort of bored voice there, with the full knowledge that most people probably will look out the window, shrug, and go on with their lives. Gary England got really excited during the May 3, 1999 storm and yelled at us to "Get underground!" but that was sort of a special case. Lightning? Meh.
People in other areas where appalled when I told them how routinely I sometimes ignore tornado sirens. They're only supposed to go off when a funnel cloud has been sighted in the area, but it doesn't always work that way. There have been times when the sirens went off in the wee hours every night for a week, and I'll be darned if I'm getting up and going to the basement for that.
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