Focusing of Lightning

While visiting Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, I joined a ranger-led group for an explanation of the local geology. While discussing the beautiful mountain backdrop of Jackson Lake, the ranger pointed to a particular peak to the west and said, "The special magnetic properties of that mountain's rocks are well known. During a thunderstorm there is always a clear focusing of the lightning strikes to that particular peak." Such a belief is another old wives tale to explain a process that, in truth, has nothing to do with rock magnetism. Each of the mountain peaks in that area of the park is made of the same geological material. The gathering of thunderstorm clouds near a particular region can depend on the unique mountain range topography, recurring surface heating, predominant weather front directions, and local prevailing winds. Such effects often concentrate the thunder clouds and lightning strikes toward certain peaks, but magnetism is not the responsible agent.

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FIGURE 2.34 ► No unique magnetic fields occur in the region of the Bermuda Triangle. Given the weather and traffic, the number of lost ships and planes in that area is, in fact, not unusual.

FIGURE 2.34 ► No unique magnetic fields occur in the region of the Bermuda Triangle. Given the weather and traffic, the number of lost ships and planes in that area is, in fact, not unusual.

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