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What happens to the current when lightning strikes a swimming pool?

  1. Jan 25, 2009 #1
    Hi all,

    In response to the above question, i read somewhere before that when lightning strikes a pool, or the sea, the current will dissipate along the water surface. The current will penetrate only to a small depth into the water.

    A simple search on Google throws up the simple explanation "The Skin Effect". Lightning is described as a high frequency Alternating current.

    Can i have some help to explain - in simple terms - this spreading of current over water surface?In addition, how far on the water surface does the current actually spreads out?

    Thanks. Physics Forums rock!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2009 #2


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    Thank you for a most interesting topic!
    I recall that lightning charges go up and down between the surface and the thundercloud - quite a large distance - so the frequency is probably way too low for the high frequency skin effect.

    But take a look at http://analogengineering.com/lightning/surface.html
    It DOES go along the surface of the water. Looks like you could survive a strike by staying underwater. There is quite a good technical explanation there.
  4. Feb 1, 2009 #3
    Thanks Delphi 51! Physics forums beat any textbook hands down.
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