23
Aug

2010

What Happens When Lightning Strikes?

Post by Steven Dale

That was the question: What happens in the event of lightning?

I recently had lunch with a group of individuals that included a cable engineer and lightning was was the topic of conversation. I asked him about the issue and what solutions had been engineered to avoid service disruptions due to it.

Much to everyone’s reassurance, he listed a variety of methods to ground and eliminate the effects of lightning on ropeway systems. None were very new or expensive and most were rather straightforward.

In other words: Gondolas, when designed properly, will function perfectly fine in the event of lightning.

“Why then,” I asked, “do you not make those solutions better known?”

I hear worries about lightning constantly. Urban dwellers (or at least their planners, bureaucrats and elected officials), it seems, are worried that these electrical discharges could compromise a system. As lightning is a fairly common occurrence, a public transit technology that cannot deal with it effectively would be virtually useless as mass urban transit. Hence my question.

The cable engineer paused, thought it through and answered with a fascinating (and eye-opening) response:

“We just think no one would let us build these things if they couldn’t handle lightning. I mean, they must be able to handle lightning. We wouldn’t build them if they couldn’t. And because we do build them and are allowed to build them, then we assume people know that they can handle lightning… I guess we must think differently.”

Indeed.



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Comments

  1. Presumably the gondolas aren't as heavy when they're struck by lightening. You may want to look that one up in the dictionary Steven.
  2. Nice. You know, I was so sure something was wrong there, but stupid me I decided to trust my spell checker.