Join Date: Apr 2006
Thanked 173 Times in 170 Posts
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"Maybe someone's done the research "
No maybe about it, the folks who know how to deal with lightning are all in the broadcast engineering industry. You know, the guys who hold up the sign that says "TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, PLEASE STAND BY" on your TV?
Radio and television antenna towers are lightning magnets. Antenna towers are routinely over 1000 feet tall, out in the middle of nowhere, and built all of metal with metal guy cables. Some are closer to 1/4 mile tall. Then there are sites like the Empire State Building, which was capped with the broadcast antennas for most of the network anchors in NYC before the WTC was built with the new tower antenna on it. The Empire State gets hit by lightning something like 300 times a year--and it doesn't knock the stations off the air, or damage the building. (Except for some holes in the roof, literally.)
Those guys know that a good grounding path can carry the jillion volts and amps right down into the ground, without destroying the goodies alongside it. MOST of the time, anyway. Once in a while--a rare while--they still have to hold up those signs.[g]
Give lightning an express lane to travel in, and it usually will. Leave it to find its own path--and you're likely to take a lot of collateral damage. "Please travel this way" is a very good way to put it!