If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?

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Offline thedoc

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Chris,

Great show, been listening from NY, CT, Brazil & MD for years! Awesome!

If you skydived through a large cumulonimbus/active storm cloud with lightning, would you be struck? What would happen if you happen to pass through the cloud and 'intercepted' a lightening strike?

Thank you so much! I would tremendously appreciate a notice if you intend on answering the questions - wouldn't miss it!!! 

Best Regards,

Andrew
Asked by Andrew Roberts


                                        Visit the webpage for the podcast in which this question is answered.

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« Last Edit: 22/11/2011 18:07:29 by _system »

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Offline yor_on

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #1 on: 20/11/2011 23:26:05 »
I would expect it possible, after all, aircraft's get struck by lightning now and then and the human body containing around 65% salt water is a good conductor.
=

As for it being dangerous? There's no 'ground' to it so I don't think so myself?

"during a 1980s lightning research project, NASA flew an F-106B jet into 1,400 thunderstorms and lightning hit it at least 700 times. The lightning didn't damage the airplane, but the data the jet collected showed that lighting could induce relatively small electrical currents that could damage electronic systems."
« Last Edit: 20/11/2011 23:28:37 by yor_on »
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Online syhprum

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #2 on: 21/11/2011 04:55:18 »
A lightning strike consists of a column of ionised air thru which a high electrical current is passing (10,000 - 100,000 Amps).
This posses little danger to a metal aircraft due to the low resistance of the path so that little power is dissipated.
The story is quite different if a human body got in the way considerable power would be dissipated and the results would be catastrophic.
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Offline Geezer

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #3 on: 21/11/2011 07:10:44 »
Would it really be any different than the effect when you are standing on the ground?

The arc current would still flow through and/or over parts of your body. It would be less likely to flow along the length of your body, but 10,000A is still 10,000A.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force æther.

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Offline yor_on

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #4 on: 21/11/2011 22:37:33 »
I'm not sure, but I was thinking of those guys that repair high power transmission lines by helicopter as a example, incredible stuff (BBC) where they work with live feeds using a helicopter as their 'platform'. But I can't find anything about any sky diver hit directly by lightning (airborne) so it has to be rare, if existing.
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Offline Nizzle

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #5 on: 22/11/2011 10:37:22 »
If the Ampères don't kill the skydiver, the temperature will. The air heats up to 20.000 deg Celcius around a lightning column...

This rapid heat expansion of the air is what produces the sound of thunder btw..
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Offline yor_on

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #6 on: 22/11/2011 13:13:23 »
Nizzle, you're forgetting something there. People survive lightning strikes every year, while grounded. But it would surely be interesting to know how much difference it would make to be hit while high up in the atmosphere.
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Offline Bored chemist

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #7 on: 22/11/2011 20:27:03 »
Being struck by lightning while connected to the earth is a problem.
Also, the nature of the connection isn't that important.
A mile long channel of ionised air will do just fine.
If you get hit by a cloud to earth bolt, it's because, from the lightning's point of view, you were grounded.

If being hauled perhaps 20Km into the air doesn't kill you with cold or asphyxia then perhaps this  would.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downburst
It's probably best to avoid skydiving in thunderstorms.

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Offline Geezer

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #8 on: 22/11/2011 21:49:31 »
If you get hit by a cloud to earth bolt,

Not to be picky or anything, but shouldn't that really be an "earth to cloud" bolt?
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Offline Bored chemist

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #9 on: 22/11/2011 21:58:24 »
Not really.
electrons travel one way. Conventional current travels the other way and, in fact nothing apart from a field travels the whole distance anyway.
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Offline Geezer

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #10 on: 22/11/2011 22:21:14 »
Not really.
electrons travel one way. Conventional current travels the other way and, in fact nothing apart from a field travels the whole distance anyway.

I seem to remember that lightning bolts actually start on Earth, but I may have it wrong.
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Offline Geezer

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If you skydive through a thunderstorm, could you be struck?
« Reply #11 on: 22/11/2011 22:25:47 »
Here we go.

"Then, when the stepped leader is pretty close to the object or ground, a traveling spark is emitted from the object up to the stepped leader.  There is still no lightning yet, but watch out!  When the stepped leader and the traveling spark meet, huge amounts of electrons travel towards the ground. Then, the actual lightning travels upward toward the cloud, following the path used by the stepped leader to reach near the object.  This is called the lightning stroke."

http://weathersavvy.com/Lightning.html
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force æther.