The actual odds of being hit by lightning

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mastreb
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The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by mastreb » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:10 am

This topic comes up a lot, and there was a good article regarding it in this month's Seaworthy magazine:

http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/magazin ... g-odds.asp

Bottom line: unless you're in Florida, there's nothing to worry about. If you are in Florida, you've got a 1/1000 chance of having your boat get hit. The article recommends getting a NOAA real-time lightning app and using it.

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by RGF » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:34 pm

Count me as one of the unlucky. Mine was sitting at the dock behind the house, blew holes in the roof of the cabin, blew the navigation switches off the ceiling along with all other bulbs including the Tri anchor strobe light at the top of the mast and both spreader lights, went through the shore power cord and the 20 amp breaker at the dock without tripping it, through the 50 amp breaker on the side of a house without tripping it, took out the TV in the middle of the house in the living room, through to the office and took out the printer and the modem, through to the air conditioner outside to take out the fan control board. Mighty costly and not much you can do about it. And yes, in Florida.... :? :(

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by NiceAft » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:59 pm

Youch :!:

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Russ » Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:32 pm

Yea, OUCH!

BTW, if you paid less than $50 for your "surge suppressor" that you plug your electronics into, it's worthless when lightning strikes. Actually, they are fairly worthless for any power problems.

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Catigale » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:24 pm

They are far from worthless for the purveyors of such goods, with cost of goods bring 25 cents and retail price of 25 usd....

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Johnacuda » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:29 pm

Never hit, but had a rather humbling experience on the Hudon once. Well, one humbling electrical experience, many assorted humbling experiences. :?

Before my :macx: , I had a nice 18' Edel 540 pocket cruiser. Just a fun little shoal draft keel boat with a 4hp Johnson on the back. I was about 4 miles from home when I got suprised by a fast-moving thunderstorm. I dropped sail, battened dow, and made a run for home. The mainsheet attachment was on the sole of the cockpit floor, so the boom always had a fair amount of play when on the topping lift. I developed the habit of keeping a hand on the boom while motoring. There was no strike, but the mast must have been conducting and bleeding a charge into the atmosphere, because my whole arm started tingling. Not a fun experience at all.

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by mastreb » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:44 pm

Odds are, about 4 members of this forum will have suffered a lightning strike themselves, and about 1 of them will be active enough to comment on this thread. A few dozen will know of someone not on this forum who's been hit.

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Steve K » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:45 pm

I've sat beached on Lake Mead through several huge thunder storms. To say the least, this is a very worrisome situation. It's downright scary, as a matter of fact. The black clouds roll in, sometimes only taking a few minutes. Seems like when it's a hundred degrees outside is when it's the worst. Suddenly......... BANG :!: flash, BANG :!: FLASH :!:
Then it will rain buckets for 15 minutes....... you push the puddle out of the middle of your Bimini..... The blue sky comes out as fast as the storm came in and off you go sailing again.

I always look up and that 28 foot aluminum conductor that's planted in the middle of my boat and ask myself,
"What am I doing here :?: :? "

Then I'll look around at the other boats I'm usually beached with and notice that the X boats (even though their mast is the same length as mine) masts stick up a little higher than mine and the Ms are higher yet.
So....... what are the chances it'll be me :?: :wink:
Well I can tell myself that anyway, right :wink:

The fact is, I've been in 5 or 6 very severe desert thunder storms. If you haven't been in one, you haven't seen a real thunder storm. Maybe I exaggerate here just a little. I know they can be very bad elsewhere too. One of the worst I've ever seen was in North Carolina. But out in the desert, one can see the light show for miles and miles.
None of us in my regular group have ever been struck. However, I do know, and know of people who have been. I know a fellow that was struck in one of the very storms we were in. He was in a cove less than a half mile from the cove we were in.
I read an article written by a guy who was anchored up in one of the canyons. He didn't see the storm approaching due to high canyon walls around him. The wind kicked up and it funnels through these canyons (why we never anchor up in these areas). The guys boat drags on the anchor and is soon being bashed upon the opposite, rocky shore. The prop is destroyed on said rocks. He finally (hoping to save his boat from being bashed to death) swims the anchor back to the sandy area he had originally had it in and standing in about three feet of water starts hauling the boat towards where he is. The whole time it's raining buckets with thunder and lightening all around. And, bty, his wife is down in the cabin praying to God one second and screaming they are all going to die the next.
So the guy gets the boat under control and secured and while standing in three feet of water he grabs the stern handhold to climb the ladder and get back on board. That's when it happened..... that very instant....... The boat is struck :!: .......
Some twenty minutes later........... He wakes up. Fortunately he quickly washed up onto the very nearby beach, during his visit to the other side and didn't drown right there. His terrified wife is watching all this through the cabin window and is so afraid, she cannot bring herself to come out to help her husband and, after all, she was actually pretty sure he was dead anyway.
So, I remember the guy saying at the end of the article,
"Yea.... so now I'm fine..... it's amazing..... I do have a little tingling in my legs from where they were submerged, down to my toes sometimes....... oh and a little tick in my right eye"

They sold the boat and got a motor home..... Go figure :wink:

Best Breezes,
Steve K.

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Catigale » Sat Aug 02, 2014 4:16 am

And the motor home got sucked up by a tornado and the sharks in the Tornado ate them.

Moral...the second time a movie comes out it's better.....

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Catigale » Sat Aug 02, 2014 4:23 am

One thing about the mast..

From your perspective in the cockpit, your 25 foot compensator looks like a huge target. From the perspective of the charge cloud at 20000 feet in the sky, your mast is a tiny ripple on the huge capacitance plane of the earth.

If you don't make a half-baked attempt to ground your mast, the charge leaders from the ground never come from your mast and you lessen the chance of bring struck. Dangling jumper cords or chain ups your odds in the inverse-Darwin lottery, in the wrong, undesirable way.

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Tomfoolery » Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:46 am

mastreb wrote:Odds are, about 4 members of this forum will have suffered a lightning strike themselves, and about 1 of them will be active enough to comment on this thread. A few dozen will know of someone not on this forum who's been hit.
The admiral was running for cover in a building at summer camp (obviously more than a few years ago), and passed between a pair of totem poles when one of them was hit. She was knocked out, with some burns on her scalp, and everyone watching was afraid to go help her. Many actually though she was 'electrified', as she tells the story, and I can believe that. :| She was ok in the end, but it's left an impression (on her mind :P ), and that's just one of the reasons she doesn't like sailboats - the perception that the mast will attract a lightning strike.

As to mast height, I went to make an offer on an older keel boat a decade ago, and when I got there, I saw the wind instrument laying on the ground next to it. Eventually I figured out it was hit by lightning earlier that day, and there were some burns in the hull where it sat on the cradle. There were many sailboats all around it, some with much taller masts and/or on higher ground, but this is the one that got hit. Who knows why that particular one got hit and not the others - it's lightning, and it's pretty unpredictable when it comes to one thing being struck and something else right next to it not getting hit.

But none of that makes me feel any better when I get caught in a squall with lightning banging around me.

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by NiceAft » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:45 am

It's scary to read the stories of those who got caught in a lightning storm, it's even scary to be the one in that storm.

About thirty years ago we were sailing the Phantom on a fair size Catskills lake when a storm very quickly overcame us. Pouring rain, lightning all around, a very gusty wind, and we were in a very small, wind sensitive craft.
Image
We were in the middle of the lake, and I am not ashamed to say, very scared :!: During that brief sail back to shore neither the Admiral or I said anything, but later we confessed how scared we were. I knew I never wanted to be in that situation again. Two or three years ago it happened again, this time we were in Nice Aft. Image Aft.

We were heading north on Lake George when we see the sky in front of us turn very black, and heading our way. I turned around and gave the Honda 50 full throttle. I probably should have dropped the ballast, but I didn't. The storm caught up with us, and now we were in the same situation as before, but with nowhere get ashore. I went behind an island for wind shelter, let out all available anchor line, we went below and closed the hatch. We rode it out playing Scrabble. In ten minutes it was over. Just as scary, but this time we were dry. :) What a difference the Mac made. :D

Ray

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by BOAT » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:05 pm

Catigale wrote:And the motor home got sucked up by a tornado and the sharks in the Tornado ate them.

Moral...the second time a movie comes out it's better.....
Sometimes the sharks in the tornado fall out of the sky and they land on your boat and they hop on their tummies and snap at your head as they hop by. From what I saw on TV the best defense is a chain saw. I did not see any of the lightning hurt anyone - it's the sharks falling out of the tornado you need to worry about, not the lightning.

By the way, it's raining and thunder over here right now - very strange for for us because we are in the 400 year drought right now - I think I saw a shark fly by in one of the clouds - maybe I should stay inside today.

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Steve K » Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:21 pm

Flash flood warning for Riverside and San Bernardino counties until about 4pm today.
Getting a little rumbley up here on the high desert right now.
Swirling hot winds, but this is common up here.
I'll likely be sitting on the patio watching the light show tonight.

I thought we were going to get it yesterday, while we were out on the desert, exploring some 4,000 year old petroglyph sites. It turned very black for awhile, but then cleared out. I did enjoy the 15 or 20 degree temperature drop that the clouds and wind brought, as it was 105 degrees plus before it got cloudy. By the time we got back to our street vehicles, the sky was blue again and the only booms we heard we from military jets (lots of training missions out here).

SK

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Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Steve K » Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:41 pm

Oh!
Haven't seen any sharks in, or fall out of the sky yet.
And out here on the desert, there is always something weird in the sky "dun,dun,dun,dun,dun,dun" :wink: :?

Submitted for your approval.............. We now return control of your TV set to you :D
on a clear night you can see area 51 from my house........... or maybe it's Russia :| :?
Honey, where's the tin foil? I need a new hat :!:
Shut up, you're not suppose to tell them that :!:


Best Breezes,
Steve K.

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