Lightning can be beautiful as well as scary. A discharge of lightning can muster up 200,000 amperes of electric current. Not impressive enough? It can be nearly 5 times hotter than the sun and spread to a neighboring cloud all the way to the ground. You don’t want to be anywhere near this bolt of raw, unbridled energy when it strikes.
You can’t prevent it from striking you home, but you can take protective measures.
The Lightning Process
According to the National Weather service, the exact process of how lightning is created is still largely unknown. But one of the most accepted theories tells us the discharge of lightning occurs when the electric fields in a cloud separate.
What is called the cloud top, develops a positive charge, while the bottom develops a negative charge. Simultaneously, there is a positive charge developing on the ground where sharp ends of objects, like home roofs, building tops and trees, reside. Lightning then develops and strikes the most likely of these areas, (whichever has the most difference in charge).
The positive charges on the ground can also gather in large fields and meadows. The negative ions travel down towards the positive ions on the ground. When these two streams of opposite charges connect, lightning occurs.
Some areas display greater lightning activity than others. Unfortunately, New Mexico is one of the areas where lightning activity is very common. It’s no Florida, but unfortunately, there have been many death and injuries in New Mexico when it comes to lightning.
The main reason cited for this, by the national weather service, is people stay out too long as storms approach or develop. It’s also more likely your house will be struck by lightning if you are on a hilltop, rather than a hill side.
Interior and Exterior Home Protection
Having lightning rods near your house will not prevent lightning, per se, but they can divert the strike to happen away from your home. Lightning rods attached to your roof should be embedded in the ground via a cable.
Lightning can travel across the ground, so any tall trees planted in your yard should be away from your house. If you’re thinking of getting one, a lightning protection system should be installed by professionals. They take into consideration the landscaping, surrounding structures and your house infrastructure before undertaking any installation work.
As for the interior of your house, lightning can mess with your electrical system – telephones, wireless routers, and other electronics.
Helpful tips to mitigate the risk of lighting are to unplug whatever you can from electrical sockets when you hear thunder in the distance. Instruct everyone in the house not to answer any phone calls, whether smartphone or landline. Also, keep away from all plumbing (sinks, toilets and faucets) as the metal pipes make excellent conductors, which can cause some serious damage.
If you want to know more about protecting your New Mexico home from lightning, contact us at Gorman Lightning.