Is the advice of the farmer that "You need to seek for a book" accurate? Is there truly such a thing as ball lightning? During the course of a rainstorm, should you remove all of the plugs?

10 most common thunderstorm myths and misconceptions
[Thunderstorm myths and misconceptions]

Thunderstorms and lightning are surrounded by a tangled web of legends, old wives' tales, and outlandish beliefs, including the following: It is recommended, for instance, that you do not use the telephone or take a shower during a thunderstorm and that you remove all of the plugs from the mains outlets. Traditions that have been passed down through generations, such as "You should give way to oak trees, and you should seek for beech trees," are tenacious.

Is it true that the automobile is the most secure location in the event that lightning strikes? What is the formula for determining how far away a thunderstorm is? And is there truly such a thing as ball lightning? We debunk the 10 most widespread misconceptions about thunderstorms and lightning in this article.

Myth 1: You should give way to oak trees and look for beech trees

When it comes to thunderstorms, the old adage "Give way to oak trees, search for beech trees" is a common refrain. Despite the widespread belief in this, it turns out to be a myth.

When it comes to lightning strikes on beeches, scientists from "Wohllebens Waldakademie" are unequivocal. Because beech trees (in contrast to oak trees) have a smooth trunk, rainfall is believed to flow down in a single stream, hence this is why.

During a thunderstorm, the current may be channeled via the water layer into the ground without injuring the beech tree's trunk. Oak trees, on the other hand, don't transmit electricity very effectively because of their rough bark. As a result, a lightning strike causes the oak trunk to split apart.

This "hazardous misconception" ws created among our forefathers due to the evident stigmata on oak trees, although the bark of beech trees was spared by lightning strikes, according to the forester Peter Wohlleben's school. During a thunderstorm, it's best to stay inside rather than seek cover beneath a tree.

Myth 2: In the event of a thunderstorm, you should pull out all the plugs

During a thunderstorm, it is still recommended to turn off all electrical appliances and remove any mains plugs from the wall. That's a good portion of the truth.

As a result of a lightning strike, if the home does not have so-called overvoltage protection, the current may enter into the electrical gadgets through the wires and cause them to malfunction. It is consequently recommended to unplug all electrical equipment from the socket during a thunderstorm by the energy provider "EnBW."

If you have a building linked to the electricity grid, you'll have to install overvoltage protection. You can find out whether your home is equipped with a gadget like this from your landlord or property manager.

Myth 3: Lightning never strikes the same spot twice in a row

It is incorrect to assert that lightning can never hit the same spot again.

In 2003, scientists at the University of Arizona discovered that following a first lightning strike, a second one may frequently be spotted in the close region of that initial hit. More than a third of the 386 so-called ground lightning strikes occurred within a few meters of the initial site of contact, according to the National Weather Service.

The five-story campus building's camera records sometimes showed even more following flashes. Even if the second lightning hit was a few meters further, the third and fourth following lightning bolts typically struck precisely at the same place as the initial lightning strike.

Myth 4: The milk goes sour during a thunderstorm

Only portion of the elderly farmer's statement about stormy milk spoiling is correct. Thunderstorms caused the milk to sour much more rapidly in the days when refrigerators were commonplace. As a result of a summer thunderstorm, there was a buildup of humid, heated air.

Myth 5: Ball lightning doesn't exist

So-called ball lightning is the subject of several urban legends. As stated by one of them, the spherical light phenomena shouldn't be real; it's just something people imagine. Actually, the answer to the issue of whether or not ball lightning exists is not that simple.

Scientists believe Nicola Tesla, the famed inventor and scientist, saw the phenomena of ball lightning while attempting to reproduce lightning in a laboratory. His 1899 and 1900 journal entries, titled "Colorado Springs Notes," document this claim. The enigmatic balls of light persisted for the next century, keeping scientists on their toes.

Ball lightning has inspired a slew of ideas and speculations. It wasn't until 2012 that scientists were first given concrete evidence of ball lightning, in the form of photographs or videos.

Using spectrometers and a camera, researchers at the "Northwest Normal University" in China were able to capture a remarkable image of ball lightning - all without even realizing it. Immediately after a lightning strike, you can witness a light phenomena that moved roughly 10 meters over the ground.

Myth 6: The number of seconds between lightning and thunder reveals how far away the thunderstorm is

An explanation for the myth is required. Sound travels at a slower speed than light, as dictated by science. This is how a thunderstorm's lightning shows up first, followed by the thunder, and just seconds later. Calculating the distance to an incoming thunderstorm may be done using a simple calculation.

Count the seconds until you hear thunder if you see lightning. Even kids know this rule of thumb. Subtract three from the total number of seconds. Finally, you'll be able to see how far the storm is from your current position in terms of kilometers. Therefore, it is possible to utilize this rule of thumb (with a division by three) for approximate computations.

If the air is dry and the temperature is 20 degrees, sound may travel 343.2 meters in a second. You may use one of the many online lightning calculators to get more exact results.

Myth 7: Jewelry and piercings attract lightning

Myth: People with piercings are more likely to be struck by lightning than those without them. This is a myth, and it should be dispelled.

When lightning strikes, metal serves as an excellent conduit for electrical current. VDE Lightning Protection and Lightning Research Committee (VDE ABB) specialists say that "even big metal components" should not attract lightning. A flash does not "see" the tiny metal pieces on or within humans, hence this also applies to jewelry wearers.

Myth 8: You shouldn't take a shower during a thunderstorm

Is it safe to take a shower in the middle of a thunderstorm? When it comes to heated debates, this is a common topic. In reality, the answer depends on the state of the structure.

Water pipes in contemporary buildings are frequently already plastic, ensuring that no electricity may be supplied into the shower in case of a lightning strike. A residence struck by lightning and the water pipes are built of metal, bathing may truly be harmful.

Many buildings have now installed so-called lightning protection systems, which allow people to shower or bathe even during a thunderstorm.

Myth 9: During a thunderstorm, the car is the safest place

It is a widely held belief that you are safer from lightning strikes if you remain in your vehicle during a thunderstorm. This is not a myth at all.

A lightning strike will act as a "Faraday cage" in your automobile, as explained by the "ADAC". Only if you do not contact any metal components in the automobile directly will the current be routed around you and discharged straight into the ground in the case of a lightning strike.

Mobile homes and convertibles may also benefit from the same idea as long as the top is closed. If the "ADAC" is correct, "virtually every roof structure" should now include metal rods that guide a lightning strike to the earth.

Cycling and motorcycling should be avoided during a thunderstorm; in fact, they should be moved away from the vehicle entirely. During thunderstorms involving lightning strikes, the "ADAC" advises avoiding metal structures of any form.

Myth 10: You shouldn't use the phone during a thunderstorm

The common wisdom that you shouldn't use the phone while there is a storm raging outside is only partially correct.

In point of fact, back then, this misconception most often pertained to landline phones that had a cable attached to them. The worst-case scenario is that a lightning strike will really hit the line on the phone. According to what was revealed by "Focus" in an interview with lightning protection specialist Thomas Raphael, in such a scenario, callers should at most receive a minor electric shock from the lightning.

Another urban legend that has survived for a good number of years is the idea that lightning may increasingly hit cell phones. According to a report by "RP Online," British researchers are said to have referred to the case of a 15-year-old girl who was struck by lightning while talking on the mobile phone while walking through a park during a thunderstorm. The incident occurred as the girl was walking through the park during a thunderstorm.

On the other hand, lightning protection specialists from "VDE ABB" have given the all clear. For instance, standing outside and using a mobile phone during a thunderstorm does not make one more likely to be hit by lightning. According to a statement released by "VDE ABB," either the electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by a mobile phone or the fact that the gadget is composed of metal should be regarded as being irrelevant in the event that lightning strikes may occur.
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