Does it ever strike twice ?

Does it ever strike Twice ?
Stephen Dunkley

There is a joke amongst the golfing fraternity that if you are ever caught on a golf course in the middle of a storm, hold up your 1 iron, as not even God can hit a 1 iron. With a number of electrical storms this summer making there appearance in the Caledon valley, the winner having to be the storm that exploded over Clarens on the 22nd of December last year that sounded like a re-enactment of the storming of the Normandy beaches, or twenty thousand Harleys cruising down main street in Sturgis, South Dakota. The storm lasted for at least an hour and a half before moving off and then sneaked back for another session, I don’t remember getting much sleep that night as the sheets of lightning lit up the sky and the accompanying thunder rattled the window panes loose.

The next day my daughter asked me what lightening was and I stood there with a mouth full of teeth thinking of something clever to say “lets face it we never want to look like we don’t know the answers to questions our children ask……….how would that look”

We decided as a father/daughter project to go to Wikipedia and swot up on the subject and this is what we came up with. Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity, usually “but not always” accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms. Driven by the wind the ice and water particles in the cloud collide, they are then charged. The positively charged ice particles stay at the top of the cloud and the negatively charged rain droplets are usually found at the bottom of the cloud, this build up of negative charges then discharges to the earth in the form of lightning, a leader of a bolt of lightening can travel at speeds of 220 000 km/s “now that’s just a tad faster than Walter Siviters Triumph Rocket 111” and reach temperatures of 30 000 degrees Celsius, “this being nearly as hot as Mrs Patel’s world famous Bengal curry” that type of heat can turn silica sand into glass and is reputed to be five times hotter than the sun.

I was surprised to learn that you get the following types of lightning Cloud to ground, Ribbon, Staccato, Ground to cloud, Ball, Positive, Upper atmospheric, Sheet, Heat, Rocket Fork, Cloud to Cloud, Bead, Rocket, Sprites, Blue jets and last but not least Elves lightning. This led me to wonder what I had actually done at school, surely somewhere along the line I must have been taught this in Science, or perhaps I was just absent that day?

The World champion of getting hit by lightning is an American called Roy C Sullivan a US forest ranger in the Shenandoah national park, Virginia. Between 1942 and 1977 Roy was hit “wait for it” seven times by lightning and lived to tell the tale. Roy statistically was a very lucky man as seventy percent of all people struck do not survive. I believe that Roy was very much in demand at dinner parties, probably due to his sparkling personality. An interesting fact about Roy is that in 1983 well in to his seventies he committed suicide over the loss of a lady.

Worldwide there are sixteen million lightning strikes a year this means that the on average the earth is hit one hundred times per second on a daily basis. This summer I know of four occasions that lightning hit Clarens or close by, the square was hit twice, a house in Larola had part of its roof blown off and late November last year a local was passing through the cutting near to Mushroom rock and before you could say “Flash Gordon” a bolt of lightning hit the side of the hill and blew chunks of rock all over the road, I believe the foot pressed hard on the accelerator and after a large dop called a few friends to tell them about their adventure and near miss from the said bolt. The next day I went to have a look and took a couple of photos. “So there you have it a brief Science and general knowledge lesson that you also may have missed at school and can use if asked by your child, so what is lightning”

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