Lightning: Dazzling, Dangerous, and Deadly

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December 1, 2015

Lightning is the #5 Weather-Related Killer in the U.S.

Do you love the crashing, booming, light show of a good electrical storm— or fear the awesome power of its lightning? Skittering across the sky in blinding flashes of menace, powerful lightning rips away our illusions of control.

Lightning StrikesAs breathtaking and hypnotic as those jagged, deafening flashes dancing across the sky can be, remember lightning is also a raw, deadly power. Each year it inflicts massive property damage, debilitating injuries, and death on the unsuspecting.

Shocking Facts about Lightning

The sheer power of lightning boggles the mind:

• At any given moment, 1,800 thunderstorms fly across our plant, creating 100 lightning strikes per second. The U.S. experiences about 100,000 thunderstorms every year.

• Experts estimate lightning strikes the U.S. 25 million times each year. Worldwide, lightning slashes to the Earth 3.6 billion times annually.

• Lightning streaks toward the ground at speeds topping 3,700 miles per second.

• Lightning bolts reach a temperature of 50,000 Fahrenheit— five times the surface temperature of the sun! Sand actually turns to glass when struck by lightning.

Flashes of Death and Destruction

According to the National Weather Service, life-threatening heat tops the list of weather-related killers in the U.S. Extreme cold, floods, and tornadoes come next in loss of life. Lightning takes the fifth spot in weather-related fatalities.

Ninety percent of people struck by lightning survive— but often with devastating repercussions.

Shocking Facts About Lightning infographicMany lightning victims experience long-term health problems and disabilities. These health issues may include debilitating fatigue, chronic pain, depression, dizziness, irritability, memory loss, muscle spasms, neurological problems, numbness, and sleep disturbances.

Some people injured by lightning may have trouble processing information or become easily distracted. Others undergo radical personality changes.

In addition to personal injuries, lightning wreaks havoc on homes and business properties— to the discordant tune of almost $900 million in insured property costs in the U.S. alone. According to the National Fire Protection Association, lightning sparks nearly 23,000 fires each year across America.

Lightning (and lava) started roughly 10% of the 63,212 wildfires which burned across the U.S. in 2014. Overall, lightning ignites 63% of all vegetation fires.

Lightning vs. Building Systems

Lightning detonates anything containing moisture on impact, like wood or concrete.

Electrical current naturally follows the path of least resistance. As a poor conductor of current, wood buildings resist the energy in lightning. The current shoots away from the wood, striking things or people nearby. Wood buildings also catch fire easily when struck by lightning.

Steel offers no resistance to current. When lightning strikes a properly grounded steel building, the current follows the steel framing downward, dispersing harmlessly into the ground. As a fire-resistant material, steel buildings usually earn significant discounts from most insurance companies.

Contact RHINO steel building systems today to discuss your next building project. Call 888.320.7466 toll free now for details and a free, no-obligation quote.

- by Mat Brown,

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