Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The power of lightning

If there's one thing that the Alps do well it's thunder and lightning. As a big noise fan, I generally delight in the ear-splitting, crockery-rattling great peals of thunder like some monstrous carronade barrage rolling down the valley. And you get used to the outages; all power cables are above ground here, so one banks on losing power for a few minutes during a corker.

Sunday's storm was particularly spectacular - fierce, prolonged and right overhead. A lightning strike on the road about 150m away tore a 1m hole in the bitmac, a 3m trench to a pine tree and blasted off all the bark from one side but without a single scorch mark. We lost power three times, at worst for two hours. But hey. We have oil lamps.

The internet was not quite so robust. The problem with running blistering fast interweb over 4G mobile networks is vulnerability - and after gamely surviving the worst of the storm on Sunday, the internet died at about midnight and only came back yesterday evening. Two days without the internet showed just how dependent I am on it. Which is possibly a good reason to lose it from time to time. 

13 comments:

DeeDee99 said...

As a child we went on a driving holiday through Germany and Austria. At Zell am See we were watching a band playing when the heavens opened and the mother of all thunderstorms started. It was spectacular, but not something you'd want to be out in. Fortunately, the bandstand had a storage area underneath so we crowded into that whilst the worst of it was underway. I remember the thunder rumbling on for hours!

I've never seen a storm like it since.

Dave_G said...


I used to sail deep-sea (oil tankers) and thoroughly enjoyed the equatorial thunder storms - lying on the poop deck watching the lightning. Not seen or heard a 'decent' storm for years now.

Must be the global-normality we're experiencing.

Poisonedchalice said...

Many years ago we took our kids on a one month holiday to south of France. While there (Lavendou) one day started gloomy with drizzle which then turned to rain, which then developed into a dark green sky with huge lightning bolts and blasts of thunder. We were camping, so we decided to head up into the hills for something to do. We came to a roundabout and my kids were continually pestering me "can we wind the window down Dad?". I relented and let them wind it down just one inch. Just as we stopped at the roundabout, I noticed a telegraph pole to my left; at the same time a bolt of lightning hit it and the resulting explosion was like standing next to a cannon being fired.

Have you ever seen little kids trying to wind a window up very quickly? :D

meltemian said...

When we first moved here we very quickly learned to unplug the TV, phone lines and the router during thunderstorms. Very expensive to keep replacing!

Ravenscar. said...

Mother nature when she sneezes we all feel it, a spectacular thunderstorm - I luv 'em.

There is some interesting Geology under your feet too Radders. Not least, with the Periadriatic fault sequence and the Apulian plate rotation and so many complications, have you experienced any tremors lately? As Africa 'swings' north, the Anatolian area is pushing west, who said the Alpine Orogeny has finished?

Have a look, this sort of stuff would interest maybe: http://www.zamg.ac.at/cms/de/geophysik/erdbeben/historische-erdbeben

Anonymous said...

Take a look here Radders.

http://en.blitzortung.org/live_lightning_maps.php?map=13


Anonymous said...

The most spectacular lighting I've ever seen was during a military exercise in Alberta. Thick rods of it split the air and you could smell the ozone as it thumped and crackled on and on. Tremendous power. Every radio net was shut down and for the duration of the storm we separated ourselves from the PRC 320's we were man packing.

Steve

James Higham said...

Strange things happen in them there Alps like.

leila said...

Did anyone watch the opening ceremony of the Gotthards Alps tunnel June last year? that wasn't just strange, it was something else.

Ravenscar. said...

"it was something else."

it was something, I am at a loss to say what.

anon2 said...

Well I simply have to add this --
"How Great Thou Art" says it all . . . can't find a good English one, any more - but, short of Elvis, here are the words:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GKhDCsLrUg


Gardener Fisher said...

South Africa does good thunder storms, especially on the high veldt

formertory said...

The blitzortung strike mapping is awesome - thank you, Anon 9Aug, 1101hr.