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Old 08-05-2009, 06:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Lightning capital of the USA bit me

Well Monday evening we had lightning hit close to the house. Funny how lightning can be selective. It took out the oven/range and blue out the cable coming to the house that supplies TV cable and internet along with the ethernet card in my PC. The whole house shook, so I went out front to see if I could see what got hit incase it was the house it self. Nothing found. When I came back in the wife said she thought it had hit out back. So I went out back and found nothing again. But, this time when I came back in the house, I heard something in the kitchen like a meat grinder going crazy. The bottom oven had a light on inside even though the digital readout on the dial was blank. So I open the oven door to find the top element red hot and welding it self to the inside of the oven. No smoke just lots of electric arcing. So I went out into the garage and tripped the breaker. One Oven/Range toasted. Then I went looking to see why the TV and Internet were down. Where the cable is buried along side the fence, was two holes blasted out of the ground and dirt and pavers blown over 2 feet away. So I dug down and found the cable blown into in one place and the insulation blown open in another.

Finally the cable company arrived to day to replace the cable and a splitter that was toast on the outside of the house. With all the TVs up and running and the wifes PC working fine, my PC would not sinc to the internet even with the wifes internet cable attached. Luckily, I had an ethernet card in another PC that worked in this one.


It's crazy how nothing else in the house electrical was damaged except the oven/range and why it blew out the eithernet card in my PC and didn't hurt the wifes PC, the router that feeds both PCs, the printers, monitors or any of the TVs is remarkable.

But most importantly, it didn't hurt us or catch the house on fire.

So, the cable company replaced the cable and splitter at no charge.

The ethernet card I changed at no cost

The Oven/Range, with $1000.00 deductable on our insurance, we had to swallow this one.

Randy
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

That's a total bummer.... But, like you said at least the house is still standing.

I had a lightning strike that got my house smoked the TV, Fridge and computer. Insurance covered it all because it was "an uncontrolled act" or some such thing. I didn't argue.

A fellow I know got into some trouble when lightning struck his layout. It left a craytor in the ground with burnt and twisted rail, kinda like a bomb went off. The down side was his rail went into his garage where his locos were stored. Needless to say the Amp rating was over capacity for his Airwire card His aristo mike was actually welded to the rails. (a bummer, but neat to see) Like any good modeler, he took a tank car out and placed it by the craytor on it's side. Then with a few spare parts from the parts box and a stray wheel set or two.... The pic was pretty neat.

But again, at least you're safe.
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

Glad to hear that you and your wife are OK.
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

Wow. Sorry about the damage. Good thing no one was hurt.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

A data center I once managed down in LA was hit. The folks on site knew the weather was bad and had turned off the equipment prior to the strike. Once the storm moved on, they tried to power stuff up and found that several systems would not come up. Close inspection showed where the current had actually jumped the air-gap in the switch and blew the power supplies. Pretty awesome when you think about it. After that they also unplugged everything during storms.


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Old 08-05-2009, 08:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

Lightning can jump 10 MILES or more... that little power switch isn't really a gap to jump!
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

One thing I learned long before this happened was that the surge protectors everyone buys do nothing when lightning strikes close by. A UPC will absorb a higher surge and protect your stuff better.
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

My dad was welding on a trailer some 25 odd years ago, so it was grounded GOOOD. My younger brother was helping (ie leaning against the trailer swilling a beer)... Lightning hit a pine tree behind the barn (about 150 yards from the garage), and at the same time my brother sat down real quick, white as a ghost.... All we can figure is either an eddy current or the strike went back up through the grounded trailer. He was kinda upset because all I had to say was better him than me.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

Lightning can do some really weird things. The bazillion volts jumps across any gap and the teraamps overwhelm any conductor they come across. If lightning actually hits a lightning rod, it just blows it up. Lightning rods actually discourage the lightning from striking, rather than providing a safe place for it to strike. It doesn't actually have to hit something to destroy it since it's so many amps flowing and stoping many times in a flash, it will induct huge currents into any nearby conductor. Nearby is a relative term: the bolt is often miles long.


You may still find odd things around the house that don't work right.


One place I worked was completely paranoid about lightning. They wouldn't just turn off the computers when they went home, they would unplug them. One lady woulld unplug the power strip, unplug the computer from the power strip AND remove the power cord from the back of the computer. Any time storms were in the area, they'd shut everything down and unplug. I always thought they were a little carried away. Then one day...


As I was coming to work, the weather looked like it was going to rain. Then I saw one small streak of lightning ahead. Just a tiny flick. When I got to work, it was complete pandemonium! The early birds had just fired up their computers and EVERY computer along the south side of the building was fried, and all the network hubs (You call them switches or routers these days.) were charcoal. I called every friend I had asking, "You have any spare hubs?" and got the network running about lunchtime. One friend drove out from Springfield with spare equipment.
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:38 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default RE: Lightning capital of the USA bit me

Torby wrote:
"Lightning can do some really weird things. The bazillion volts jumps across any gap and the teraamps overwhelm any conductor they come across. If lightning actually hits a lightning rod, it just blows it up. Lightning rods actually discourage the lightning from striking, rather than providing a safe place for it to strike. It doesn't actually have to hit something to destroy it since it's so many amps flowing and stoping many times in a flash, it will induct huge currents into any nearby conductor. Nearby is a relative term: the bolt is often miles long."
There was a thread here some months ago, where I called that an 'EMP'--electromagnetic pulse. I think you describe it better. I was curious if any of these outdoor layouts had ever experienced such an effect. A few had, if memory serves.

Rivette's post re the UPS (the power supply, not the company) is well worth considering, for the guys with bucks to spend. I wonder how long they last? They used to be pricey as all get-out.

I liked T-storms when I was younger, used to sit on the front porch and watch for strikes. One day I was putting up fencing when a storm blew in and I thought, 'hey, I'll get wet, but no big deal. Might get to see some cool bolts." (I was young & single, and 'mortality' was a concept for someone else.) I had a Massey tractor with a loader that was up in the air--it worked really well to press sharpened posts into the ground--when this huge, humongous bolt sizzled over the field I was in. I think 4" eyeballs magnify things, because it looked like it was about as thick as a freight train. One of those bolts where you see/feel it before you hear it. I saw a small spark like you get off a magneto jump across a greased joint on the lift arm fartherest from me. I climbed on that tractor and headed for the barn on the theory that a moving target is harder to hit. Not a drop of rain had fallen before that thing took a shot at me. Just wind and low, black clouds.

Riv, I'm glad you & family are okay.
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