Lightning could have been fatal for a young Finisterian who was driving on departmental 9, between Morlaix and Plougonven (29), Wednesday evening. Luckily, only his car was struck down, which only damaged the electrical system.
First of all, for a storm to break out, a “cumulonimbus” must form, “the king of the clouds”, explains Sébastien Decaux on Météo Bretagne. “These clouds develop vertically and their summit can reach 10 km to 15 km in altitude”. “Every second, a large cumulonimbus can suck in 700,000 tonnes of air and thus absorb 8,800 tonnes of water vapour”, continues Météo France.
Lightning, lightning and thunder
At the heart of this cloud, rain, winds, snow and hail swirl until they descend again. “These particles of water and ice and these currents which rub against each other and collide cause the clouds to be electrified”, according to Météo Bretagne. “When they collide, heavy particles become negatively charged while light particles become positively charged.”
Finally, “the ascending and descending currents lead to the separation of positive and negative particles causing lightning inside the cloud, between two clouds or with the ground (lightning)”, concludes Météo France.
A few tips to protect yourself from thunderstorms
To minimize the chances of being hit by lightning, avoid parking under an isolated tree, under an overhang or handling any electrical conductor, explains Météo France. Among other good advice: sit on the ground, because lightning is attracted by anything that sticks out (a tree, a peak or a standing man); do not lie down or lean against a wall and insulate yourself as much as possible from the ground by means of any insulating material (roll of rope, sleeping bag or backpack whose frame is placed on the ground).
What are the risks if you are struck by lightning?
“During lightning strikes with passage of current through the body, brief initial loss of consciousness is very frequent. The major risk is heart damage,” explains the Lightning Protection Association. If a person is in cardio-respiratory arrest, you can directly carry out first aid actions without risk, after having alerted the emergency services (the person struck by lightning is not charged with electricity). In the event of a burn, you must respect the rule of three “15s”, explains France Info: spend the wound for 15 minutes under water at 15°C, keeping your arm 15 centimeters from the trickle of water.
How to follow lightning strikes?
The Keraunos site makes it possible to follow lightning strikes by department and by municipality. On Wednesday, nearly 300 lightning strikes were recorded in France, including 109 in Morbihan. We learn that it was in Kervignac that there were the most impacts (17). Daily statistics are available for one month.
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