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Lightning Can Strike TwiceCloud-to-ground lightning bolts are a common phenomenon—about 100 strike Earth’s surface every single second—yet their power is extraordinary. Learn the shocking details and damaging power of lightning firsthand by spinning up your own virtual thunderbolts.
Tornado winds churn at up to 250 miles (400 kilometers) per hour, wreaking havoc on whatever they touch. Follow members of a National Geographic team as they careen into the hearts of storms and take a closer look at tornadoes and the phenomenal forces that drive them. Catch a glimpse of wildfires from a rare perspective, as firefighters open a window into their world.
Unlike earthquakes, which are often followed by aftershocks, the storms that birth tornadoes are independent of one another. See heroic firefighters and breathtaking devastation shared with the #wildfire2014 tag on Your Shot. Twisters across much of the South and Midwest highlight seasonal dangers in vast strike zone.
See how you measure up against others, and how changes at home could do tons to protect the planet. The National Geographic Society aims to be an international leader for global conservation and environmental sustainability. Lightning is a giant electrical spark and is caused by the separation of electrical charge in a thunderstorm. How far away can it detect lightning depends on the intensity of the storm and the kind of terrain between our detector and the storm.
When the Lightning Detector detects lightning stokes it may take a while to get the position correct, this is due to it recalculating each time. Some meteorologists believe that positive lightning strikes indicate storms that are more likely to spin out tornadoes. The most common type of lightning, called intra cloud lightning, strikes between positive and negative areas in the same cloud.
Intra cloud lightning is far more prevalent than cloud-to-ground lightning, and the mean peak currents in intra cloud lightning tend to be smaller. In the active stages of severe storms, intra cloud flashes can outnumber ground flashes by 10-100 to one.
A typical lightning flash lasts about a quarter of a second and consists of 3 or 4 individual discharges called strokes.
A lightning stroke begins with a faint predischarge, called the leader, which goes from the cloud to the ground. The map shows the average annual number of lightning flashes per square kilometer across the world. Explore the BBC News News Sport Weather Shop Earth Travel Capital iPlayer Culture Autos Future TV Radio CBBC CBeebies Food iWonder Bitesize Travel Music Earth Arts Make It Digital Taster Nature Local Terms of Use About the BBC Privacy Policy Cookies Accessibility Help Parental Guidance Contact the BBC Advertise with us Ad choices Copyright © 2016 BBC. While large scale natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes grab most of the headlines, the most dangerous and also one of the most common is lightning. As our understanding has increased, lightning has become less an object of superstition and more one of scientific interest. By the mid-1700, several scientists were starting to talk about the similarity between electrical sparks and lightning bolts.


Luckily for Franklin, there were construction delays in erecting such a structure in Philadelphia, and he was unable to perform his experiment himself.
Franklin, it turns out was weatherwise, otherwise and lucky, and there have been a number of people who have since died trying to imitate this experiment. There are several types of lightning strikes; cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-air, and cloud-to-ground.
Lightning is created when a separation of the positive and negative charges within a cloud becomes so great that the insulating power of air is exceeded and great amounts of electricity are then released. Exactly how such a charge separation is created in a cloud is not entirely understood, but several necessary ingredients to the process have been identified. After the initial return stoke, the channel through the air remains very conductive, and thus provides an easy pathway from the cloud to the ground.
Thunder is produced when the air heated by the return stroke rapidly expands into the air around it. Since the power contained in a flash of lightning is tremendous (several hundred millions of volts, and several tens of thousands of amps), it is best to take precautions which lessen the chance of you and your property being struck.
The proper installation of lightning rods on buildings and trees can save immeasurable amounts of monetary as well as sentimental value by rechannelling the energy of a direct stroke. Since cloud-to-ground lightning strikes cause so much destruction they have been the object of much study. As such it provides invaluable information for scientific studies, power and telephone company storm response, and even corporate and individual insurance claims.
The strike density gradually lessens as one moves north reaching a minimum of about 1 to 2 strikes per square kilometer in northern Virginia. The 15-year old son of Kashim Imam, a director in the Kogi State Ministry of Information, was on Tuesday evening, killed by lightning during a down pour in Lokoja. The tragedy occurred at Otokiti Housing Estate, on Lokoja-Okene-Kabba road, opposite the Army Barracks in the state capital. The mother of the deceased, who narrated her ordeal, said she was in the room when it was raining.
She said the boy was outside playing in the open field of the estate with some of his friends when he was struck dead by lightning. Each bolt can contain up to one billion volts of electricity.This enormous electrical discharge is caused by an imbalance between positive and negative charges.
Although they appear suddenly, warning systems have improved average warning time to 13 minutes. When individuals pledge to use less water in their own lives, our partners carry out restoration work in the Colorado River Basin. The mechanism of charge separation is still poorly understood but there now seems little doubt that ice particle collisions are involved and the conditions favorable to ice particle collisions are strong updrafts which invigorate a thunderstorm's ice factory.
It is the lightning bolt we see reaching from the sky to the ground forming a bright, usually forked bolt of light. The great majority of ground flashes are negative, but the most powerful and most dangerous are the positive ground flashes that can also produce sprites in the mesosphere.
Intra cloud flashes that leave cloud base and approach ground, but do not reach ground, are called air discharges. This less common lightning strike occurs between oppositely charged areas of separate clouds.


Each stroke lasts a few ten thousandths of a second, although the visual appearance is longer. The leader establishes a path for the highly luminous return stroke (what you really see) which propagates from the ground up to the cloud. New York photographer Jay Fine had spent the night braving the storm in Battery Park City, Manhattan, in a bid to get the perfect picture. During a storm, colliding particles of rain, ice, or snow increase this imbalance and often negatively charge the lower reaches of storm clouds.
Stronger storms can be detected further away and flat terrain between us and the storm gives us a better chance of "seeing" the storm.
Positive flashes occur in the decaying phases of large thunderstorms and in the very active stages of severe storms. Intra cloud lightning that leaves cloud top and heads upwards are sometimes referred to as cloud-to-ionosphere flashes. The "flicker" sometimes observed in lightning is due to seeing the actual strokes making up the flash. The first stroke of a flash is usually preceded by a "stepped leader", so called because it appears to progress in discrete steps (about 100 segments, each 50 m long) from cloud to ground. Jay spent nearly two hours poised with his camera and took more than 80 shots before striking lucky with this particular bolt of lightning at 8.45pm on 22 September.
Objects on the ground, like steeples, trees, and the Earth itself, become positively charged—creating an imbalance that nature seeks to remedy by passing current between the two charges.A step-like series of negative charges, called a stepped leader, works its way incrementally downward from the bottom of a storm cloud toward the Earth. Most cloud-to-ground lightning strikes come from the negatively charged bottom of the cloud traveling to the positively charged ground below. The subsequent strokes are preceded by a "dart leader" which smoothly follows the path of the previous return stroke (and is about 10 times faster).
The latter field is the approximate dielectric strength of the thundercloud medium and its attainment is required to initiate lionization, the initial stage of the large spark that is lightning. Sometimes there is a rarer form that happens from the the positive charge in the top of the cloud to the negative charge on the ground known as a positive flash. Intercloud lightning poses a particular hazard to airplanes in flight because it passes through the clear air between clouds. When the lowermost step comes within 150 feet (46 meters) of a positively charged object it is met by a climbing surge of positive electricity, called a streamer, which can rise up through a building, a tree, or even a person.
The process forms a channel through which electricity is transferred as lightning.Some types of lightning, including the most common types, never leave the clouds but travel between differently charged areas within or between clouds. Other rare forms can be sparked by extreme forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and snowstorms.
Ball lightning, a small, charged sphere that floats, glows, and bounces along oblivious to the laws of gravity or physics, still puzzles scientists.Lightning is extremely hot—a flash can heat the air around it to temperatures five times hotter than the sun’s surface. This heat causes surrounding air to rapidly expand and vibrate, which creates the pealing thunder we hear a short time after seeing a lightning flash.Lightning is not only spectacular, it’s dangerous.
Hundreds more survive strikes but suffer from a variety of lasting symptoms, including memory loss, dizziness, weakness, numbness, and other life-altering ailments.



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