Originally Posted by Senior Chief
Believe it or not lightening goes from the ground UP. The' strike' you see is air heated to incandescence by incredible billions of electrons rushing through it. The 'strikes' can also be cloud to cloud, which accounts for the aerial displays you see. Tires are actually a big help in stopping or reducing the intensity of the strike. but with the voltages involved they can only do so much.
Hmmm ... perhaps sometimes that is correct ... but often not. The electrical charge is in the atmosphere - that is why you CAN have cloud to cloud strikes, or strikes on airplanes, etc.
Here in Central Florida we are famous for golfers getting hit by lightning, sometimes even have pictures with the stories, and the doctor's descriptions, which the media LOVE, are very clear - it hit the upraised golf club, left burn marks as it traveled down the arm and leg, then blew out the foot and shoe as it went to ground.
And those strikes that hit ACs on the roofs of commercial buildings, or hit nearby power lines or transformers on the poles, all send that "hit" (giant surge) DOWN the power lines, an easy path to follow as it spends energy on its WAY to ground.
That is why surge protection is able to be so effective. It is almost impossible to protect from a hit coming UP - like on the water pipes.