When your hair stands on end

On August 20, 1975, the McQuilken siblings were hiking in Sequoia National Park when their hair started to stand on end. They paused to take a photo of the unusual phenomenon. The top photo shows the two brothers, Sean and Michael. The bottom one shows their sister Mary.

A few minutes after taking these photos, lightning struck Sean and Michael. Luckily, they both survived.

The photos are now used in a pamphlet published by the National Weather Service describing lightning warning signs.







Michael McQuilken later wrote an article about his recollections of that day (the article is now only accessible via the Internet Archive):

Suddenly, I was immersed in the brightest light I have ever seen. I moved my head from side to side and all I could see was bright white light, similar in appearance to arc welding light. This next part is strange. I distinctly remember feeling weightless, and that my feet were no longer touching the ground. For some reason, it felt like a number of seconds transpired, even though I realize that lightning strikes are instantaneous. A deafening explosion followed, and I found myself on the ground with the others. Sean was collapsed and huddled on his knees. Smoke was pouring from his back. I rushed over to him and checked his pulse and breathing. He was still alive. I put out the embers on his back and elbows and carried him down the path towards the parking lot, with the rest of the group following.

More info: NBC News
     Posted By: Alex - Thu Apr 28, 2022
     Category: Weather





Comments
One of my favorite little factoids: In Roman times, anyone killed by lightning couldn't be buried in holy ground. They figured that if a god struck you down, they they weren't going to argue.

That's a neat poster about lightning, but what are you supposed to do if those things happen? Run for a tree? Dig the fastest foxhole in history? What!?!
Posted by Phideaux on 04/28/22 at 09:01 AM
It means that you need to get off of the ship, Phideaux! That is the description of St. Elmo's Fire. (It's not just a song title.)
Posted by KDP on 04/28/22 at 10:29 AM
Lightning works along with many "leaders" that come up from ground. The "bolt" connects in mid-air with the successful leader. This means you are in a leader. I'd say to avoid touching metal (like the handrail in the pic) or anything grounded, get down, and crawl for cover, if there is time. If necessary, yes, dig the fastest foxhole in history.

I was in this, in a marina of sailboats. It connected with a leader from another mast (I assume), which couldn't have been more than 50 ft. away. There was only 2 or 3 seconds warning, then the deafening thunderclap. I made a serious upgrade to my boat's grounding system at the next haul-out. Local wisdom is 100% to provide a good ground when you have a piece of aluminum sticking up 50 ft. I had a size 0000 cable bolted to the base of my mast.

Buildings make us feel protected, due to the ceiling. But for lightning, the wiring in the walls makes a building approximately into a Faraday cage. The electrical will suffer, but you should be ok – if you've been a good boy / girl.

Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 04/28/22 at 12:02 PM
In my marina lightning event, there was no other human around. I could mainly feel the skin tightening where the hair on the back of my neck was trying to stand up, I imagine. There was a little of the same sensation on my forearms.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 04/28/22 at 12:14 PM









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