Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Based on popular belief, it is believed that lightning never strikes twice in the same location. In addition to that belief, did you know:

  • the average size of a lightning channel is only the width of a pen?
  • thunder is formed from the shock wave formed by the rapid heating of the air along the path of the lightning channel, which reaches some 30,000 degrees K (hotter than the surface of the Sun)?
  • lightning is the number-one cause of storm-related deaths?
  • damage costs from lightning are estimated at $4-5 billion each year in the U.S.?
  • around the earth there are 100 lightning strikes per second, or 8,640,00 times a day?
  • there are approximately 100,000 thunderstorms in the U.S. each year?
  • Americans are twice as likely to die from lightning than from a hurricane, tornado or flood?
  • 20% of all lightning victims die from the strike?
  • 70% of survivors will suffer serious long-term effects?
  • annually, there are more than 10,000 forest fires caused by lightning?
  • 40% of all farm fires and 75,000 forest fires a year are started by lightning?
  • lightning can strike 6 to 10 miles from the leading edge of a storm? 30% of victims are struck under blue skies before the storm arrives. As well, 60% of victims struck under blue skies after the storm passes.
  • most lightning strikes average 2 to 3 miles long and carry a current of 10000 amps at 100 million volts?

Okay, so that's probably more information than you would like to have rolling around in your head concerning lightning. I simply share this trivia to remind myself and you of the awe-inspiring grandeur of Nature. Unharnessed, raw, simple, powerful, mysterious Nature.

30,00 degrees K and hotter than the surface of the Sun; all channeled through a space no wider than a pencil and faster than a bullet fired out of a revolver. And for many of us growing up, the most terrifying aspect of lightning wasn't the flash of light, but it was its booming thunder. And here's the paradox of the entire phenomena: that overwhelming and scary thunder is Nature's method for managing and diffusing this immense and destructive energy surge.

In our own life we may find, when reflecting back, that the events we were most afraid and anxious of were just simply "noise;" Life's method of protecting and shielding us from a greater pain. When our own storms of perceived tragedy and misfortune subside, we often times find that somehow, miraculously and mysteriously, we come through unscathed... and often times, the better because of the storm. We don't understand it all and that's okay - its the unharnessed, raw, powerful, mysterious nature of Life.

Post Note: Lightning never strikes twice in the same place? In reality, the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower get hit thousands of times a year by lightning, as do mountain tops and radio-television antennas. So just in case the clouds roll in and the heavens open up, it's probably still a good idea to seek low ground or indoor shelter... but keep looking to the sky in simple wonder.