[TowerTalk] Re: Static, Lightning, and protection

Jim Lux jimlux at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 22 10:04:34 EST 2004

At 09:22 AM 3/22/2004 -0600, you wrote:
>Good point. At higher altitude, the dielectric strength of air is less, so 
>the voltage cannot build up as much before the strike starts, so the 
>clouds cannot build as much energy as they can in Florida.
>Didier KO4BB
>At 07:41 AM 3/22/2004, you wrote:
>> From personal experience there is a lot of lightning in CO,
>>but the intensity is somewhat less since the ground elevation
>>is at 5,000 ft so the storms have 5,000 ft less elevation to
>>develop their charge.

probably other factors at work than air density.  At 5000 ft, the density 
is about 90% of that at sea level and, to a first order, breakdown strength 
goes as density.  In both cases, the thunderstorm extends many 10's of 
thousands of feet up, and the major charge collection is going to be 
occurring fairly high up.

If I had to pick a single factor, I'd say that Florida is wetter and hotter 
than Colorado.  In eastern Colorado, summer thunderstorms result from 
instability at the interface between the dry cool air coming down off the 
Rockies and the moist hot air coming up from the south. In Florida, you 
have a very flat area, with warm ocean on both sides, etc.

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