Lightning is one of the most deadly natural phenomena known to man, with bolt temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun and shockwaves beaming out in all directions.
In an electrical
storm, the storm clouds are charged like giant capacitors in the sky. The upper portion of the cloud is positive and the lower portion is negative.
field becomes more and more intense, so intense, in fact, that the electrons at the oceans’ surface are repelled deeper into the ocean by the strong negative charge at the lower portion of the cloud. This repulsion of electrons causes the earth's surface to acquire a strong positive charge.
All that is needed now is a conductive path for the negative cloud bottom to contact the positive earth surface. The strong electric
field, being somewhat self-sufficient, creates this path.
When the electric field becomes very strong, conditions are ripe for the air to begin breaking down. The electric field causes the surrounding air to become separated into positive ions and electrons
The importance of this separation is that the electrons are now free to move much more easily. The ionization of air or gas creates plasma with conductive properties similar to that of metals. We can view the ionization process as "burning a path" through the air for the lightning to follow.
A path is not created instantaneously. In fact, there are usually many separate paths of ionized air stemming from the cloud. These paths are typically referred to as step leaders, objects reach out to the cloud by "growing" positive streamers. These streamers also have a purplish color and appear to be more prominent on sharp edges
After the step leader and the streamer meet, the ionized air (plasma) has completed its journey to the earth, leaving a conductive path from the cloud to the earth. With this path complete, current flows between the earth and the cloud. This discharge of current is nature's way of trying to neutralize the charge separation. The flash we see when this discharge occurs is not the strike, it is the local effects of the strike. Any time there is an electrical current, there is also heat associated with the current. Since there is an enormous amount of current in a lightning strike, there is also an enormous amount of heat. This heat is the actual cause of the brilliant white-blue flash that we see.
After the original strike occurs, it is usually followed by 30 to 40 secondary strikes. These strikes follow the path of the main strike, the secondary strike can occur while the flash from the main stroke is still visible or after the flash from the main strike ends, making it appear that the main strike is flickering.
The purpose of lightning rods is often misunderstood. Many people believe that lightning rods "attract" lightning. It is better stated to say that lightning rods provide a low-resistance path to ground that can be used to conduct the enormous electrical currents when lightning strikes occur. If lightning strikes, the system attempts to carry the harmful electrical current away from the structure and safely to ground.
The lightning can strike and then "seek" a path of least resistance by jumping around to nearby objects that provide a better path to ground. If the strike occurs near the lightning-rod system, the system will have a very low-resistance path and can then receive a "jump," diverting the strike current to ground before it can do any more damage.
Lightning rods only become relevant when a strike occurs or immediately after a strike occurs.
Regardless of whether or not a lightning-rod system is present, the strike will still occur.
After lightning strikes the ocean, there is an electric potential that radiates outward from the point of contact which can also cause damage and death
Surge protectors won't save your electronics if lightning strikes you need a lightning arrester on the circuit. The arrester uses a gas-filled gap that acts as an open circuit to low potentials, but becomes ionized and conducts at very high potentials. If the lightning hits the line you are protecting, the gas gap will conduct the current safely to ground.
However a Faraday cage is much better protection, the metal cage will shield objects within the cage when a high potential discharge hits. The metal, being a good conductor, would direct the current around the objects and discharge it safely to the ground.
does this nicely if it is connected to ground (remember to make sure the door is electrically connected to the body). And in conjunction with a quality lightning rod set up, may help to protect your boat, your electronics and you.
“This information is edited from other sources and does not constitute electrical advice”.