When lightning strikes a pond or lake does it kill the fish or ducks, for example, in the water? If no, why not. If yes, what is the safe zone for the wildlife to continue living? 10 feet, 20 feet? It obviously doesn’t kill everything in a pond when it strikes. Thanks for the help!
When the potential energy between ions and electrons is great enough and they are close enough together, a stepped leader emerges from the cloud and follows a tortuous route to earth. Since air is a poor conductor, the stroke leader twists and turns seeking the path of least resistance. Meanwhile, on the ground, ion streamers, which can leap 20’ or more, jump up towards the descending leader. When the step leader meets a streamer enormous electrical energy surges to earth in the newly created channel and a lightning strike is born.
Water is less attractive than the nearby river banks, with the exception of storms occurring out in the middle of the ocean. In this case, water just serves as another medium through which the electrical discharge travels on its way to the ferrous body of your planet. The question could just as fairly be asked: why aren’t birds, bugs and all manner of animals flying anywhere within the Earth’s atmosphere toasted when bolt of lightning travels through that medium?
The water serves more to conduct an electrical current away from waterborne objects. Unless said object is close enough to be directly roasted by the radiant heat energy of the discharge or is actually in the discharge path, it is unlikely to suffer any serious ill effects. The warnings we’re given about being near water are due to the fact that any bodies of water we are likely to be near are small enough that a lightning strike to the pool, pond or puddle will easily be close enough to sizzle your bacon.
I was almost struck by lightning once… it hit the ground in between me and 2 others. I would say it was about 2 to 3 feet from any of us, and since it was raining out, we were standing in water. (although it was just surface water, but water nontheless) None of us felt any shock, but it did prompt us to go inside quickly!