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Bizarre Lightning Strikes

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In September 1908, during a violent thunderstorm, Lightning flashed down a Pennsylvania coal mine and killed three miners 1,300 feet underground. The miners were working at the bottom of the shaft and the lightning apparently travelled down a steel rail that acted as a conductor.

There have actually been a number of occasions when lightning has been linked to explosions in mines, the latest being the disaster in the Sago Mine in West Virginia where twelve miners died. The tragedy was compounded by the fact that is was announced that all the miners were safe and this wasn't corrected for three hours. It has not been completely established how the lightning travelled and triggered the explosion.

One can't help wondering whether any of the many coal mine explosions in Britain were caused by lightning strikes although I haven't come across any evidence to confirm this. Anyone come across any bizarre strikes that ended in tragedy?

On a similar vein apparently rapid changes of atmospheric pressure at coal mines could be very dangerous, but that's another topic.

Edited by weather ship

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Not something you'd think likely, but clearly the wonderfully earthed winding gear is a good strike attractor.

Lightning conductors can only do so much to protect when a large metal mass is held high in the air.

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The Sago disaster produced a massive investigation and one of the research teams came up with this.

“Current from a surface lightning strike can generate electromagnetic fields that can readily propagate through the earth, as opposed to current being driven into conductors entering a mine such as metal rails or power lines,†Schneider said in a news release. “The correlation between our field measurements and analytical models is quite impressive. Significant energy can be transmitted deep into the mine without physical conductors being present on or near the surface. This has profound implications.â€

http://www.miningtopnews.com/sandia-team-researches-cause-of-sago-mine-disaster.html

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I posted this one a couple of years ago "Never hold a pitchfork up in the air during a thunderstorm"

Two reports from 1907 of people being killed by lightning with a pitchfork acting as a lightning conductor....

24th May:- (Holbeach Marsh)

"Thomas Cumberworth, a labourer, was killed whilst working in a field during a thunderstorm. The evidence showed that the man met a remarkable death. At the time, he was carrying a manure fork with steel prongs, and this, which he had on his shoulder, appeared to have acted as a conductor to the lightning, which entered the body at the neck and passed down the feet. His clothes were torn off round the shoulders and body, and he was left nearly nude. The garments were scattered about a distance of 16 or 17 yards. His boot were rent to pieces and both feet were injured, whilst a hole was made in the ground on which he was standing. A watch he was wearing was fused by the lightning, and the case was bent up in a very remarkable manner. Death was instantaneous. The companion who was with him, named Charles Pattison, appears also to have been struck by the same flash and stunned, but he recovered."

29th June:-

"About 4.15pm, a man was killed by lightning at Rickmansworth while holding up a fork full of hay to protect himself from rain."

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Another time when lightning triggered a disaster in a coal mine. This time in Canada in a mine near Sparwood & Elkford in 1916.

Twelve men were all killed in series of explosions which occurred shortly after the start of the night shift on August 8, 1916. At the time there was a bad lightning storm taking place. It is thought that the lightning struck near the portal and travelled into the mine either on the signal wire (bells used to communicate in the mine), the cable used to pull coal cars, or along the track itself. The main entry way was constructed of 18 to 24 inch diameter timbers which were smashed and strewn all about in front of the portal.

Edited by weather ship

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