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Current Affairs

Lightning strikes

Date: 14 July 2021 Tags: Geography & Environment

Issue

Several people were killed in separate incidents of lightning strikes in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

 

Background

In past couple of years the fatalities due to lightning strikes are increasing. It has been more prevalent in parts of northern states.

 

Details

  • Lightning strikes have more fatality in urban areas than others. It is highest contributor to accidental deaths due to natural factors.

  • The phenomenon is also least studied among all weather and climate related studies. Little resources are allocated for the study of lightning and thunderstorms.

  • Unlike countries such as US, lightning and thunderstorms are not tracked in India. This is because there is not enough data for researchers to study with.

  • This is the reason that occurrence of lightning is not predicted accurately. The warnings are also not taken seriously.

 

Lightning

  • Discharge of electricity from atmosphere towards Earth is known as lightning. The amount of electricity generated is enormous and can be deadly.

  • The lightning is produced by cumulonimbus clouds that are as big as 12-13 km. they range from surface of Earth to high atmosphere.

  • The water vapor moving upwards condenses and gives out heat. This makes molecules to move further up.

  • At higher altitude, water droplets turn into ice crystals. They start falling back after their weight becomes too high.

  • The friction between ice crystals and water molecules releases electrons. These electrons sustain for long time to start a chain reaction.

  • The top layer of clouds get charged positively and middle layer negatively charged. This allows electric current of high intensity to move downwards.

  • The Earth is comparatively positive charged. This allows electric discharge towards surface. It usually strikes taller objects such as trees and buildings.

 

Precautions

  • Most people are stuck by electric current when it flows through wet or conducting ground. This is the reason that makes it more dangerous.

  • Avoiding taking shelter below trees or lying on ground. Indoor shelter is safer but touching electrical appliances should be avoided.