On the top of Mt. Whitney, California, there is a stone
building, about 12 ft. x 25 ft., festooned with no less than
9 lightning rods. All the rods appear to be connected
together, and there are over 9 wires from the system to
earth. The building has a thick wood floor.
I've read that two people have been killed, and something
like 15 injured (some seriously) by lightning while taking
shelter in this building during a lightning storm.
Presently, there are warning signs, warning against taking
shelter in the building during a storm.
How can such a seemingly well-protected building be such a
If someone was any where near one of the grounding wires, they'd get one
hell of an inductive shock. Think of it as a 1:1 transformer.
Though it might be inefficient and lossy, considering that a lightning
can be 100,000,000 volts there would be plenty left to fry someone.
The key word is 'seemingly'.
The physics of installation/maintance of lightning protection is complex. A
simple thing as right angle bends while they may look professional can
render lightning protection worthless.
| How can such a seemingly well-protected building be such a
First, do we know it's actually true? You've
read? Where? When?
Second, we don't know about the lightning
protection job. And how are the cables grounded?
They won't get much ground in rock, but that
may be all that's available.
I'm not sure there's any value in speculating
about something of which we have neither
expertise nor details.
| > First, do we know it's actually true? You've
| > read? Where? When?
| Plenty of Google hits
| here is one
From 25 years ago. And I don't see anything in
that article about lightning protection.
Thanks for that link. It would sure be interesting to know
if the 9 lightening rods presently seen on the hut were
there when the people were injured. I would suspect that
they were, since the original decision to build the hut was
based on the death of a researcher because of a lightning
It's also interesting about the stove-pipe, but I would
think the rods, with much better grounding (maybe not *good*
grounding, but certainly better that the stove and
stove-pipe), would be a more likely target for lightening,
but my knowledge in the area is very slim.
The real key to the story would be to know the presence of
rods, and the quality of the grounding, when the folks were
Were they killed before they installed the lightning protection?
Maybe they were leaning against the walls instead of being in the
center of the room.
I have a lightning rod on my garage and was in the driveway (with
another guy) once when it was hit. It was certainly exciting but we
all came out OK. We did feel the force of the hit, it was like a
sudden explosive shock wave going by but no real "electrical"
On Wed, 16 Mar 2016 16:20:41 -0400, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
That's the $64 question.
One of the injured said he was leaning against the wall.
Have you inspected the rod and ground wire since the strike?
I've always been curious to know what happens to a
well-designed and built lightening rod system when it gets
If a LR system is typically damaged by a hit, then I'd
suspect the rods on the Whitney hut would have an average
life-span of about 3 days.
It's probably the tallest point on that mountain, and thats why it get
struck. Anything that's tall is most likely to get struck. TV towers are
regular targets because of their height.
Maybe the State or County should build some sort of underground
"bunker", so people have a place to go during storms.
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