MYTH: Wearing jewelry, wearing shoes with metal cleats or carrying metal objects such as tripods, golf clubs and umbrellas will attract lightning and make me more susceptible to a strike. (And helpful too.) Not because of the umbrella or golf club, but simply because you're outside where the lightning is occurring! Even at research labs where rocket-triggered lightning is used to test lightning rods, many times the lightning misses the test rods altogether and strikes bare, metal-less ground nearby! A tall television broadcast tower or a mega-skyscraper introduces a huge leap in size, and the resultant 'degree of influence', from an umbrella, earring or house. Will these rods attract lightning? Metal Roofs and Lighting The misconception that metal roofs attract lightning is probably because metal itself is known as a good conductor of electricity, and people, therefore, assume that a metal roof must attract lightning. A house or building may attract a lightning bolt that comes down at or less than a distance equal to its height. How to write an effective developer resume: Advice from a hiring manager, Podcast 290: This computer science degree is brought to you by Big Tech, “Question closed” notifications experiment results and graduation, MAINTENANCE WARNING: Possible downtime early morning Dec 2/4/9 UTC (8:30PM…. MathJax reference. GO: Home | Storm Expeditions | Photography | Extreme Weather Library | Stock Footage | Blog, Web Site Design and Internet Marketing by CIS Internet, tall television broadcast tower or a mega-skyscraper. METAL MYTH #1: METAL ROOFS ATTRACT LIGHTNING. Are the design load values in this floor determination table (span chart) inclusive or exclusive of the given floor weight (inherent dead load)? If you could ask Benjamin Franklin what it is that attracts lightning, he would tell you about the lightning rod. This video is also quite good (especially as of 0:56, but the rest is worth watching as well) since it shows lightning in super slow motion, so you can see it "searching" for a path down to earth. Using the degree of influence concept, we can conclude that a broadcast tower that is 1,500 feet high is likely to draw a lightning strike that is occuring within a 1,500-foot radius of its antenna tip. The danger of this myth is that it fosters the assumption that it is safer to be outdoors if you just isolate yourself from metal objects. It hits in valleys at the base of huge mountains. Use MathJax to format equations. Damage to electronics from lightning strike at a distance. How do I legally resign in Germany when no one is at the office? xkcd has a fantastic description of how lightning works. This makes any relevance to safety a moot point, as lightning striking within a few feet of a person standing outside is usually just as lethal as a direct hit. That is, a three-foot high umbrella will not attract or influence a lightning channel that strikes more than three feet away (see illustration below). If it were coming at something of an angle, then it would probably strike one of the floors above you (any exterior electrical sockets would do the trick or maybe even the railings as @Olin mentions in his answer). This means that for your rods to be struck by lightning, they need to be the path of least resistance within 60 m (or whatever) of the step leader (the searching tip of the lightning). MYTH: Lightning always strikes the tallest object. Photographic and laboratory evidence suggests that a conductive object will only attract a lightning channel at a distance at or less than the object's longest vertically-oriented dimension. How to highlight "risky" action by its icon, and make it stand out from other icons? If protectionist policies hinder economic growth, why do we need border taxes at all? Small metal objects will not attract a lightning channel that is further away than a distance equal to the object's length. Or, as Olin points out, just use wooden rods. The balcony is a recessed one. I'd say that your rods are quite unlikely to be hit by lightning, considering that you are 3 floors down from the top, and there appear to be other metal structure between you and the sky. How can I label staffs with the parts' purpose. Visualize your umbrella or earrings scaled to size on this picture - they wouldn't even be visible. At the tip of the rods I put some isolating tape, so that it covers the tip of the rod. The graphic below is an approximation of what Chicago's Sears Tower looks like when superimposed next to a thunderstorm. So, basically, out of an infinity of possible points where the step leader may be, only a very, very small subset of those points would really risk your rods getting struck by lightning. It has been found that the 'degree of influence' of metal objects on lightning is proportional to the size of the object. To subscribe to this RSS feed, copy and paste this URL into your RSS reader. Xkcd mentions 60-meter steps and the video mentions 50 yards (at 1:00), which for our purposes are close enough. Thanks for your answer. His invention is used today on the tops of many tall buildings in an effort to attract lightning. If the foil is grounded, it will attract and deflect, not reflect, lightning, which is all not quite right because the lightning actually goes UP from the ground, not down from the clouds. The foil will present an easier path for the flow of electrons, so will marginally increase the likelihood of the next discharge picking that path. How to look back on 10 years of photography. Why doesn't a lightning strike destroy the lightning rod? The building has lightning protection on top. At the tip of the rods I put some isolating tape, so that it covers the tip of the rod. MYTH: Ipods and headphones attract lightning. MYTH: Lightning only strikes good conductors. The only way a small conductive object like an umbrella would 'attract' a lightning channel is if the lightning already was about to strike less than three to five feet away. (OR) MYTH: Wearing jewelry, wearing shoes with metal cleats or carrying metal objects such as tripods, golf clubs and umbrellas will attract lightning and make me more susceptible to a strike. On the same token, the forces inside a thunderstorm that create lightning are much too large to be influenced by small metal objects on the ground that are tiny specks in comparison. Photographic evidence of lightning strokes to these structures have reinforced this concept. If lightning were to hit the side of the building at these balconies, then I'd expect the railings to be hit. I have some tomato plants on my balcony (4th floor in a 7 story building). Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professionals and students of engineering. While metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railing, bleachers, etc. The more lightning is studied and photographed, the more it is found to defy these age-old myths. TRUTH: For all intents and purposes, nothing 'attracts' lightning. The descending stepped leader of a lightning bolt doesn't 'decide what to strike' until it is very close to the ground. I'm assuming the railings in your picture are metal. It only takes a minute to sign up. You could compare this myth to the one that suggests that you can jump up and down on the San Andreas Fault in California and trigger an earthquake. So is it safe to be outside and wave an umbrella or golf club in the air during a storm? 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