“Don’t Get Yourself Zapped” Part 2 - www.ifish.net

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Old 06-30-2009, 08:20 AM   #1
Stan Fagerstrom
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: 928 Island Drive South
Posts: 216
Default “Don’t Get Yourself Zapped” Part 2

“Don’t Get Yourself Zapped”

By Stan Fagerstrom
Part 2

Most homes have wiring carrying about 120 volts of electricity.

As many of us have discovered, that's enough energy to knock you off your feet or even kill you if conditions are just right. Think what the possibilities are when you're dealing with an electrical storm where a bolt of lightning may carry as much as one million volts. That kind of charge would curl the eyebrows on a brass monkey!

The weather experts say electricity in a cloud is formed by small drops of water blown into the air by warm air currents. The warm air currents give these drops of water a small charge of electricity.

Some clouds are charged positive, others negative. A low-hanging cloud with positive electricity will charge an object on the ground with negative electricity. If the cloud has negative electricity, it charges the object on the ground with positive electricity.

When the charge in the clouds or in the ground object becomes powerful enough, a flash leaps from one cloud to another or from a cloud to the ground. The passage of the lightning bolt heats the air along its path, making it expand quickly. This starts large waves of air moving through the sky and results in the sound we know as thunder.

Click pic to zoom
Southwest's Washington's popular Silver Lake is about 40 miles as the crow flies west of Mount St. Helens. I lived on the lake's shore when the mountain blew its top in May of 1980. I shot this picture from my bass boat just a few minutes after the eruption started.

In my previous column I mentioned the tremendous amount of electricity generated by the eruption of Mount St. Helens. Note the illustrations that accompany this column. I shot the first of these pictures just minutes after the mountain exploded. Streaks of lightning flashed all over the tremendous eruption plume.

Click pic to zoom
As fishermen east of the Cascades were soon to find out, the tremendous cloud of ash from the eruption was filled with lightning. Some of these anglers discovered just how well graphite conducts electricity.

It was the electricity in that cloud that caused the graphite rods of the anglers fishing on the east side of the Cascades to suddenly come alive in their hands. I shot these pictures from my bass boat on Silver Lake.

If you're a fisherman, let that first far-off clap of thunder serve as a friendly warning. Lay your graphite rods aside and get your hind end off the water---PDQ!

There's something else to remember. Don't think you're safe by simply getting to shore and taking cover beneath the trees. That’s almost as bad as staying out on the water. Get away from the water and take shelter.

Fishermen will be killed by lightning again this year. There's no need for you to risk being one of them if you take the necessary precautions.

Sometimes it has been difficult to practice what I’m preaching. I was in the Amazon jungle a few years ago years ago. In four of the six days we fished we were clobbered by intense tropical thunderstorms. Those storms hit in a hurry. There was no way we could get to cover. We were way to hell and gone back in the boonies and an hour’s running time away from our fishing lodge. We simply had to ride it out. It was not a pleasant experience.

As a kid I grew up in North Dakota. I got a chance to see what lightning can do more often than I wanted. On one occasion a bolt smacked a telephone pole right outside the one room schoolhouse I was in at the time.

Lightning takes its toll here in the United States every year just as it does in other parts of the world. Fishermen who fail to give it the respect it deserves risk not being around long enough to regret it.

Last edited by Stan Fagerstrom; 06-30-2009 at 08:22 AM.
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