Lightning July 15, 2006Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
This morning, at about two or three o’clock, we were hit with storms at the top of Kitt Peak. You have to realize that the mountain is a gigantic lightning rod. The granite just seems to attract the forks of the electrical discharge. Astronomers have studded their mountain with lightning rods on their radio and optical telescopes so I was not too worried about the bolts hitting us, but we did experience a few very close ones. Of course, the rain was wonderful.
Usually, during Monsoon season in Tucson, we watch the radar images from a variety of sites. I can see several storms approaching us as I type. I know their approximate size and speed so I can anticipate the durations of any storms. This morning, however, we were at a disadvantage. The storms appeared to keep coming without let up, which made for a rather uncomfortable sleep with all the loud banging and flashing directly overhead.
I mentioned this feeling of unease at not having radar readouts to give us a sense of the nature of the storms and many of the adults agreed. Of course, some said cave dwellers never had such things to allay their fears. I suppose, but cave dwellers likely never thought thunder was an electric current passing through the discharge channels rapidly heating and expanding the air into plasma producing acoustic shock waves known as thunder. I doubt they were too fearful having seen the storms before and realizing they were part of the natural world. The decision would have been whether to try to exmplain them or not.
I am just amazed the tent did not roll off the mountain when the winds picked up.