Monday, October 26, 2009

Energy from lightning and energy in a hurricane

After my last blog, I got more than a half dozen emails asking me to estimate the energy in lightning strikes. I found a link from the University of Illinois that states a 3 mile lightning strike will have between 1 billion and 10 billion joules of energy.

Three miles is about 15,000 feet so my storm analysis of the Johannesburg thunderstorm showed that at 10,000 feet the storm lost potential energy of 1.2 billion kilowatt hours. At fifteen thousand feet the lost potential energy is 1.8 billion kilowatt hours. One kilowatt hour equals 3.6 million joules so again I use my calculator to show that if the lightning during the storm struck 100 times the energy in the rain was 64,800 times greater than the 100 combined lightning strikes if the lightning had 1 billion joules each strike and 6,480 times greater if each lightning strike had 10 billion joules. Now that you are equipped with this jewel of information you know that trying to collect the energy from lightning in a storm will not do much to save the world from fossil fuels.

Sudhir an avid reader sent me this email with the following link to show how powerful a hurricane is compared with atomic bombs. Looks like this guy who wrote the link came to same conclusion as me that storms are pretty powerful. He claims that Hurricane Gustav was 11,070 times more powerful than the Hiroshima A bomb. Wait Hurricane is spelled with a H so we will see if the National Hydrogen Association claims Gustav was simply a Hydrogen Bomb.