bczachura A Data Center by Design: Lightning Strikes

February 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

They Always Told Me That Lightning Never Strikes in the Same Place Twice. 

             Wow, were THEY ever wrong!

No other force in nature combines the ethereal beauty and incredible power of lightning. It is so fascinating and mesmerizing that it is easy to forget how dangerous it can be for both people and property if you happen to be directly under it (word of advice here, not a good place to be). And once and for all let’s put the never striking twice concept to rest. In 2010 the perimeter fence next to the gated entry to Data Cave was struck not twice, but three time all within a few feet of each other!  Talk about real world testing of our protection equipment. I became intrigued with this phenomenon of nature, and compiled some interesting information I would like to share with you.

Lightning is a phenomenal force of nature that can not only cause significant damage where it impacts, but can also transmit that power for some distance over TV cables, power lines, telephone lines, and plumbing. This can spread the damaging effect of a strike over a substantial distance, and poses a serious threat to electronic equipment and individuals. The following are fantastic but true facts about lightning.

Did you know…

  • The Earth is struck by lightning 100 times per second (3.6 TRILLION per year)?
  • The Earth is struck by lightning 1,800 times at any moment?
  • The U.S. has approximately 100,000 thunderstorms PER YEAR?
  • Lightning can reach temperatures of 50,000°F (5 times as hot as the Sun)?
  • Lightning has been observed over 100 miles long?
  • An average lightning flash has the energy of a 1-KILOTON EXPLOSION?
  • Voltage in a cloud to ground lightning strike is 100 million to one billion volts?
  • The average lightning strike is 6 miles long?
  • In the U.S., lightning kills more than Hurricanes and Tornadoes, combined? Only floods kill more!
  • There are more than 10,000 forest fires started by lightning each year?
  • Lightning causes approximately $5 Billion of damage in the U.S. each year?
  • FEMA estimates there are 200 deaths and 750 severe injuries from lightning each year in the U.S.?

Safety Tip

Lightning damage to electronics usually occurs when lightning strikes to nearby utility poles or wires, then enters the building through power, phone, and TV wires. For direct or indirect hits, the only sure way is to pull the power, phone, and cable plugs on sensitive electronics before thunderstorms threaten. Never touch wires during a thunderstorm, even to unplug your equipment. People have been electrocuted while unplugging their electronics during thunderstorms.

Data Cave is responsible for the protection of thousands of pieces of our clients’ equipment so you can believe we take lightning very seriously.  I will be post future blogs on this topic including more on the basic science of lightning, types (yes there are different types, my favorite is out-of-the-blue lightning which strikes from a clear sky), strange lightning related events and lightning mitigation strategies.

If you have 9 minutes to spare, you might want to check out this great footage from NOVA which discusses the possible cosmic ray origin of lightning and includes some very cool video of induced lightning strikes!

Come see how Data Cave protects client’s equipment from lightning. Contact us at 866-514-2283.

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