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Jun 8, 2012
Work it Girly!
I lead my first tower this past weekend in the South San Rafael Swell! While I was at the top I was with a friend who second and I gestured about the clouds passing over us. When I put my hand up I heard a "Buzz" I put my hand down, and he asked what I did to make that noise. I replied, "I didn't do anything.." I put my hand up again and then the other hand too; "buzz - buzzz"
It wasn't shocking me, but it was making that sound. What was it?

-Meesh
Mishel
From Littleton, CO
Joined Mar 9, 2010
197 points
Jun 8, 2012
Bucky
Hi Mishel,

Lightning is not my speciality, but based upon my rudimentary understanding, this is what I would say (if I was in the office, I would bug one of my colleagues for the particulars, but my explanation below should probably suffice).

What you were experiencing was the buildup of positive electrical charge (i.e. static electricity). The bottom of the cloud overhead had negative charge. And the air in between you and the cloud acts as an insulating layer. The closer the charges are to one another, the more strongly the electrical fields interact; when you held your hand up, you were likely functioning as the high point where the largest charge buildup and interaction were located (you know, like a tree in an open field). The charge buildup is the first step in the lightning initiation process. If the charge builds up enough (which happens mostly from friction within the cloud...i.e. turbulent air moving around is akin to rubbing a balloon with your hand), a stepped leader would come down from the cloud and a dart leader would travel upwards through you (leader=weak electrical charge, i.e. a "mini" lightning bolt). When the two leaders meet, an electrical "circuit" of sorts is established through the insulating air layer; once established, the return stroke follows. The return stroke discharges the built up static electricity stored in the cloud and is what we all see as lightning.

Next time that happens....get off the summit!!! Yikes, glad you are okay.

See more details here:
erh.noaa.gov/cae/svrwx/ltg.htm
or here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightnin...

Cheers.
J. Albers
From Colorado
Joined Jul 11, 2008
2,223 points
Jun 8, 2012
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH
Yikes, Albers has got it right. Glad you're alright. Brendan Blanchard
From Boulder, CO
Joined Oct 18, 2010
310 points
Jun 9, 2012
Work it Girly!
:) Thanks Albers! Mishel
From Littleton, CO
Joined Mar 9, 2010
197 points
Jun 10, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
Holy shit, Mishel. Glad you didn't get struck. I have many friends who experienced the buzz and even St. Elmo's fire up on peaks, but one did get hit by a ground splash of the bolt that hit near them. Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,496 points
Jun 15, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
Demi was definitely in St. Elmo's Fire. Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,496 points
Jun 17, 2012
The Shield
You were very close to being struck. You are very lucky.
Killis, St. Elmos had that blonde chick that had Demi's voice. Easily confused on the voice.
Really good Demi viewing in Blame it on Rio... i think she was like 19.
Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
Joined Apr 9, 2006
2,248 points
Jun 17, 2012
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
Sam Lightner, Jr. wrote:
You were very close to being struck. You are very lucky. Killis, St. Elmos had that blonde chick that had Demi's voice. Easily confused on the voice. Really good Demi viewing in Blame it on Rio... i think she was like 19.


Rio' was good, especially Michelle Johnson who played her friend in the flick. And the young Demi was pre-massive boob job that she got later for that stripper movie and G.I. Jane fame. Then she met Ashton and 'poof' her career went dead.
Woodchuck ATC
Joined Nov 29, 2007
3,091 points
Jun 17, 2012
Check this out:
Tree Scar
Tree Scar


Struck at 2am, blew the windows into the house, broke the concrete stoop, blew siding off, inside blew the plaster off walls, and I screamed like a little girl when it struck.

Had to take the tree down but the bid was 4k so we used rudimentary climbing skills and cigarettes to take it down ourselves. Pretty fun actually.
Tradoholic
Joined Apr 17, 2004
12,478 points
Jun 17, 2012
Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wal...
Plus another yikes.

Several years ago, I topped Swanson's Arete with heavy clouds, wind, and lightning about. A guy topping Yellow Spur at the same time had his hair sticking out like a straight fro, as if he were touching one of those 50's charge balls that make your hair stand up.

We all got down fast.
Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Joined Mar 4, 2008
313 points


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