Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Lightning Strikes to Jalopies

What happens when lightning strikes a vehicle? The answer, gleaned from anecdotal observations, is all the way from "nothing" to "Wow! What a mess. . . my car is a disaster."

Electrically speaking, at lightning's higher frequencies, currents are carried mostly on the outside of conducting objects. A thick copper wire or a hollow-wall metal pipe will carry most of the lightning on outer surfaces. This phenomenon is called Skin Effect. The same holds true for lightning when it strikes metal vehicles: the outer surface carries most of the electricity. The persons inside this steel box can be likened to protected by a partial Faraday Cage.

But, consistent with lightning's capricious nature, situations alter results. Is the car dry or wet? If the car is made of fiberglass (a poor conductor) or a convertible, Skin Effect principles may not work. [Corvette and Saturn owners please note.]

The complete article is available at :

The website has some good photos of Jalopies after being struck by lightning!


  • The article said "Cases from police departments report bad burns to the hands and mouth where officers were using radio microphones when their vehicles were struck". Phew!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:21 PM  

  • The Defpom coax length page.

    A page which shows how to work out the correct coax length.

    Because radio waves are tuned wavelengths of energy, we have to take into account the coax optimum length...



    By Blogger Rodney Yeo @, at 12:00 AM  

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