When Mother Nature knocks at the door

Unless you slept through junior high school science class, you’ll remember that light travels much, much faster than sound, as in 670,616,227 m.p.h. versus 767 m.p.h.

That’s why during a thunderstorm you usually see the lightning first, but not hear the accompanying thunder until several seconds later. Or if lightning struck far enough away, you might not hear the thunder at all.

On the other hand, if a bolt of lightning hit you on the head, or scarily close by, the flash of light and the blast of the thunder would be simultaneous—and your butt would be broiled medium-well.

Kaboom! said Mother Nature to the chimney. 

Deep in the night a couple of weeks ago, after when we had declared the rainy season officially over, a hellacious racket of thunder and lightning broke out, with rain beating on the windows, accompanied by high winds. Lightning and deafening thunder seemed to be hitting almost simultaneously.

The next morning the rain gauge showed two inches of rain, quite a gully-washer.

Then a couple of days ago, we received an email our friend Ron, who lives about six or seven miles from us, with news that lightning had struck his casita, right next to his house, causing quite a bit of damage.

The force of the lightning pretty much demolished the brick chimney, most impressively knocking over a cement lid that must weigh 100 pounds. Inside the house, all the light bulbs blew and some of the light fixtures even came loose from the ceiling. There was no one in the casita at the time.

Call the albañil !

The enormous power of a bolt of lightning is hard to comprehend. It can pack from 100 million to one billion volts of electricity, although I don’t know how the magnitude of a specific bolt of lightning could be measured, given that it lasts only fractions of a second, compared to minutes or days, in the case of an earthquake or a hurricane.

The blast of electrical energy unleashed by a bolt of lightning can heat the narrow air in its path to anywhere from 18,000 to 60,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plus I imagine anyone standing outside during a thunderstorm, waving whatever measuring gizmo in the air, wouldn’t live to report back with the results if lightning struck close by.

I suppose whatever lightning bolt struck Ron’s house was a relatively puny one. A billion-volt hit would have flattened the whole place. 

Would a lightning rod be a good idea for our ranch? The thought came up when we were building the house, which sits alone on a small hill.

I might look into it, though I wonder if that would be an invitation, rather than a deterrent, for lightning to blast our chimney. 

Visiting an active volcano has long been in Stew’s and mine bucket list. In Mexico, the Colima volcano in Jalisco, and the venerable Popocatépelt between Puebla and Mexico City, are both  grumbling and belching regularly right now.

Volcanic eruptions are often accompanied by dazzling displays of lightning. Now, if we could witness such two-for-one natural spectacle, that would be the experience of a lifetime.

Hell, after that, we could just toss out the bucket and the list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s