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Guest Message by DevFuse
 

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Subie blasted by lightning


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38 replies to this topic

#1 Sydfloyd44

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 09:33 PM

Was just doing some reading on an industry message board relating to auto glass.

Came across this article about a car hit by lightning near Salt Lake City. Bummed when I checked it out and saw it was a Subaru!! Looks like maybe a 95 or 96 Legacy wagon.
Guess I was just surprised that the lightning would actually hit the car?????

http://radio.ksl.com...d=203158&nid=19

#2 SuBrat84

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 09:38 PM

An automobile engine creates an electro magnetic field.. I can totally understand why and how it is possible that a lightning bolt could strike a car.. It must be an extremely rare circumstance though! Amazing!

#3 jamal

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 10:26 PM

My dad's car got hit my lightning when he was in college. I think all it did was blow out a headlight.

#4 Guest_jclay_*

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 10:04 AM

Poor Subie! It looks just like mine, without the hole of course!

#5 frag

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 11:10 AM

Lucky for her she was a bad conductor.

#6 Setright

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 11:33 AM

As Dogbert said when he charged himself with static from the carpet:

"It is useless to be a resistor!"

#7 firstwagon

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 02:56 PM

I doubt the car actually triggered the lightning bolt. Since they are isolated by rubber tires, cars are rarely if ever hit. More then likely it just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As it was traveling down the road, it was unfortunate enough to cross the spot where the lightning was going to hit just as the bolt struck. The lightning simply traveled right through the car and into the ground below.

#8 mtsmiths

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 03:41 PM

Or, as one of my office mates (who HATES Subarus) said when I showed him the picture: "SEE, God doesn't like Subarus either!"

#9 Guest_jclay_*

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 04:11 PM

I don't think I like your office mate!

#10 subie94

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 07:21 AM

I don't think I like your office mate!



me neither :-p

#11 frag

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 07:31 AM

Seeing how the glass is folded outwards, the lighting bolt must have travelled upwards.

#12 outback_97

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 08:01 AM

Lightning bolts *do* travel upwards... but I would think the airbag deploying had more to do with the shape of the broken glass than the lightning ;)

Very cool find... somehow I missed this on the news and I live here... but I was out of town that week. We don't get much lightning in SLC, at least compared to the upper midwest where I'm from. But the odds of it hitting a subie are very good 'cause there's so many of them :lol:

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#13 99obw

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 08:55 AM

Lightning bolts *do* travel upwards...


Not always. They can travel both directions. They can also never touch the ground.

It's a common misconception that the car is safe because of the tires, but that's not true, it's because of the metal shielding of the body.

#14 tysn

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 09:00 AM

Not always. They can travel both directions. They can also never touch the ground.

It's a common misconception that the car is safe because of the tires, but that's not true, it's because of the metal shielding of the body.


the tires keep you grounded, unless you got radial showing i think you are fine

#15 Scottbaru

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 09:03 AM

I would think the airbag deploying had more to do with the shape of the broken glass than the lightning ;)

So do you think the windshield was broken primarily by the airbag? That makes sense...

#16 SuBrat84

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 09:03 AM

I love lightning discussions. Can't wait for Tucson Monsoons to roll around this year. Aww How I love the lightning storms. Lightning does indeed travel from the ground, to the sky, and (the part we see, due to the speed of light) back to the ground. This is NOT always the case however. Lightning is raw energy, it can also travel across the sky.. or from the ground, to the sky, to another point in the sky.. etc.. etc.. It is a common misconception that the bolts we see going from the sky to the ground actually originate in the sky though. It is indeed true that these particular bolts do start on or in? the ground. Static Energy baby! I had a friend get hit by one once.. knocked him clean out of his shoes! He couldn't hear for like two days either. He's okay now though!

#17 Scottbaru

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 09:38 AM

Lightning is the result of a buildup of electrons big enough to jump the gap from the surface they're on, to a surface sufficiently lacking electrons. Small charges can jump small gaps, etc. Electons build up on non-conductive materials better than conductive. Conductive materials allow them to travel quickly through the material to a point where they dissapate gradually. That's how lightning rods work: electrons travel quickly up to the sharpened tip, build up quickly on the small tip surface to critical levels, and stream off with little fanfare. When lightning hits a conductive box like a car, it much prefers traveling through the conductive shell material, rather than jumping the airgap inside the box, so people in cars are pretty safe.

#18 SuBrat84

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 09:39 AM

Very nicely put. I need to go back to school! :headbang:

Lightning is the result of a buildup of electrons big enough to jump the gap from the surface they're on, to a surface sufficiently lacking electrons. Small charges can jump small gaps, etc. Electons build up on non-conductive materials better than conductive. Conductive materials allow them to travel quickly through the material to a point where they dissapate gradually. That's how lightning rods work: electrons travel quickly up to the sharpened tip, build up quickly on the small tip surface to critical levels, and stream off with little fanfare. When lightning hits a conductive box like a car, it much prefers traveling through the conductive shell material, rather than jumping the airgap inside the box, so people in cars are pretty safe.



#19 99obw

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 11:06 AM

When lightning hits a conductive box like a car, it much prefers traveling through the conductive shell material, rather than jumping the airgap inside the box, so people in cars are pretty safe.


Exactly.

The tires have very little to do with it. The arc has already traveled a relatively long distance, the last foot or so between the chassis and the ground is almost irrelevant.

I have heard two schools of thought on lightning rods; the first is that they prevent the charge from building in the first place by draining it to earth ground, the second is that they direct the current from a strike to earth ground rather than through the house. I think the true answer combines a little of both.

#20 Sweet82

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 11:13 AM

Lightning bolts *do* travel upwards... but I would think the airbag deploying had more to do with the shape of the broken glass than the lightning ;)

Very cool find... somehow I missed this on the news and I live here... but I was out of town that week. We don't get much lightning in SLC, at least compared to the upper midwest where I'm from. But the odds of it hitting a subie are very good 'cause there's so many of them :lol:

Steve


I was out of town too (Moab). I never heard about this either?

Something Subaru Related finally happens in SLC and no one here knew about it?

Just glad it was not my Subaru :lol:

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#21 Tiny Clark

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 01:35 PM

I'm not getting too involved in this subject, except to say that if tires don't insulate the car from ground, then why don't a lot of airplanes get hit when they are parked at airports. That's a huge metal box.

It may be possible this subie had a grounding strip attached to it, reducing the chance of static shock in the dry Utah climate. If it did, then the car would be a great lightning rod.

#22 Meeky Moose

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:03 PM

maybe she just forgot to go to sunday mass, lol..


too bad something like that doesn't happen to drunk drivers.. i think the roads would be safer if it would.

#23 mtsmiths

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:16 PM

I guess none of youse guyz listen to da Boyz, Click & Clack. They've had many 'conversations' about this.

Ya know why modern car tires are black? 'Cause they add carbon to the rubber (which is a milky white in it's natural state).

Ya know what carbon black is? An excellent conductor.

Tires vary from manufacturer to manufacturer as to carbon content, and some conduct electricity better than others, but all will carry the voltage from a lightning bolt, especially when wet.

Static buildup from the car running and moving through the air, rarely reaches the capacitance to discharge to ground ... except when you hand the quarter to the toll booth person, or occasionally through a gas pump nozzle (whoops).

Airplanes take hits all the time, on the ground and in the air. BTW airplanes are ALWAYS grounded before fueling! They have an appaling tendancy to go BOOM if you don't.

#24 felipe01forester

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:27 PM

My folks had a 1978 VW Rabbit that they believed was struck by lightning in 1985 while driving along US 80 from Terrell to Dallas. The car never acted the same since. If there is water on the tires, that small amount of water will attract static electricity as it's moving along the road. Two frictioning bodies (the road and the tires) rubbing together, creating a static capacitance on the car, plus a conductor of some sort (water) plus a static capacitance in the atmosphere will allow those two capacitances to connect and discharge to each other.

If your car comes in contact with power lines, that's only a few thousand volts at the most. Your tires will insulate you, as well as Lenz's Law, stating that an electric charge will only conduct across the SURFACE of the conductor itself, so as long as you're inside the car and don't touch anything metal in the cabin, you'll be alright. As you see from those pictures, lightning packs a wallop of a few million volts in a split-second discharge. The thunder concussion was probably what broke the windshield.

#25 Scottbaru

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 03:23 PM

Looking at the picture, I see the airbag door is up against the windshield, and the airbag is caught in a crack in the windshield. Big chunks of glass are outside the windshield, and the hole lines up with where the airbag should've deployed. No mention of holes or burns inside the car. It looks to me like the airbag cracked the windshield, not the lightning. I suspect even a near miss could cause airbag deployment.




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