21 July 2017

Curious minds want to know…

It was a bright and sunny day. People were milling around in the ocean merrily. Suddenly, it became cloudy and then it began to rain. No lightning, no thunder, mind you – just rains.

Here’s the interesting part… To a person, everybody got out of the ocean and took shelter under various shades in the boardwalk. Some even sat down next to me to have a drink. And once the rains stopped, everybody went back to the ocean.

I have seen this behavior in other beaches too before…

Which raises a legitimate question in my mind.

WHY??? What were they afraid of?

Getting wet???

Posted July 21, 2017 by Rajib Roy in category "Vacations


  1. By Roger Whitney on

    It is the oddest thing! Perhaps they are worried about lightning. I’ve heard of people being struck when rain clouds were near by.

    1. By Rajib Roy on

      There was no lightning yesterday. I would contend that even if there was lightning, it is safer to be in the ocean chest deep. Lightning will find a better and taller conductor to reach the ground quickly. In fact, the shades should be less safe than vein in the ocean. In all likelihood, a lightning near the beach is going to hit the lightning arrestors on top of buildings specifically designed to do so

  2. By Arjun Rajagopalan on

    If lightning hits the water, being a good conductor, I would assume that everything on it will feel it.. ie get electrocuted. So the fear that lightning may follow rain might be reason that folks stepped out. While the odds that it strikes a building are higher, it can’t be discounted that it won’t hit water at all..

    1. By Don Mitchell on

      I believe that you’re right that H2O is not a conductor, but the minerals are. I would think that the charge dissipates with the cube of the distance from the strike, though. I’m wondering why the noaa page describes the charge as following the surface. It raises more questions than it answers. Tell us the facts Rajib

    2. By Don Mitchell on

      https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/917/lightning-strikes-the-ocean-im-swimming-in-what-happens is full of all sorts of sophisticated but not completely agreeing answers. There’s something about current traveling on the surface but for fresh not salt water. There’s content about the square of the distance (which would correspond to surface conductance afaik) and cube of distance. The most interesting is that your body is less conductive than the sea water; so, the charge should go around not through you. And, of course, there’s someone personal anecdote about swimming and getting mildly shocked by a very close strike.


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