Author Topic: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)  (Read 919 times)

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Offline renormalize

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My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« on: September 13, 2019, 09:08:26 PM »
Back in April I proudly showed off my new Ambient station here on WXForum:

https://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=36634.0

But alas, during a thunderstorm this afternoon I heard a clap of thunder very close by and soon after realized that I'd lost the radio signal from the Osprey array. Checking after the rain I found that the array had apparently taken a lightning strike. Burn marks, damaged batteries on the ground, rain collector blown apart with the rain funnel and bird spikes missing and unaccounted for. Think I can file a warranty claim?😀

Folks, be careful out there in thunderstorms.

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Offline CW2274

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2019, 09:26:18 PM »
Think I can file a warranty claim?
Sure, you can file a claim, but I believe they'll never cover it as 'acts of nature' are usually not. 

Offline WA4OPQ

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2019, 09:50:55 PM »
This is when you're thankful the systems are wireless.
I'll happily buy a new array if the lightning chose my Wx station instead of my house.

Offline galfert

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2019, 10:02:52 PM »
It's only $107 to replace ($114 with spikes). Unless other things were damaged it doesn't meet the deductible.
https://www.ambientweather.com/amws1900.html

That is a fascinating lighting hit though.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 10:05:04 PM by galfert »
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Online chief-david

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2019, 10:15:05 PM »
This is when you're thankful the systems are wireless.
I'll happily buy a new array if the lightning chose my Wx station instead of my house.

Read the ABOUT page on my site.

https://rms-weather.rdale.org/about.php

I doubt anyone will cover it--unless you have an outside warranty.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 10:24:44 PM by chief-david »
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Offline WSWeather

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2019, 10:50:23 PM »
When Thor decides to visit you the best you can hope for is that the lightning energy finds the least destructive path to ground.  If you are in a lightning-prone area it may be worth it to put some sort of lightning rod above the (replacement) array connected to a ground wire and 8 foot ground rod at the base of whatever is supporting it.

(In "real life" I deal with radio station antenna sites which take these sorts of strikes several times per year.)

Offline CW2274

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2019, 11:59:40 PM »
8 foot ground rod at the base of whatever is supporting it.
If you please, how does one drive an 8' rod into the ground?

Offline nincehelser

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2019, 12:34:51 AM »
8 foot ground rod at the base of whatever is supporting it.
If you please, how does one drive an 8' rod into the ground?

All sorts of videos on youtube using different techniques.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=driving+a+grounding+rod

Offline CW2274

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2019, 12:54:32 AM »
 :lol: And they all make my back hurt...  Love the chicken broth method.  =D>

Offline galfert

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2019, 06:54:33 AM »
I'll admit that I have not researched the matter and I will. But before I do I thought I'd share my thoughts and confusion on the matter of getting lighting protection....

I get that if you protect a structure (structure/building) with lighting protection what you have in fact done is make it so that when lightning hits that there is a path of less resistance that directs the lighting through the lighting protection and into the ground rather than through the structure/building itself. But doesn't providing this protecting also make it so that if a disparity of electrical potential exists in the area, that it will be your structure/building with its protection, that will then be hit over and over by lightning? Rather than if there was no protection then maybe you get hit or maybe you don't. Because a nearby tree or building next to you is then the one that offers the path of less resistance out of just randomness of the situation. By providing lightning protection it is then your structure/building that is in fact then protecting everything around you. So better that your neighbor gets the protection than you.

So sure the lightning protection is supposed to protect. But still being hit over and over even with the protection is bound to have some adverse effects like there may be enough energy in the air from a direct hit to cause maybe some sensitive electronics to still be affected. And the lightning protection is bound to suffer some damage and since it touches the structure/building it may leave a burn mark right along the path of the protection.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 07:12:08 AM by galfert »
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Offline DoctorKnow

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2019, 09:11:51 AM »
I've had a VHF TV antenna hit by lightning (Stellar labs) that fried the balun box. It didn't come down the coax line though. Twice before though, I have had an old Directv pizza size satellite dish get hit, and come down the coax enough to fry the receiver. It also fried the LNB, and burnt the coax lead. One time, the stuff was even unplugged from power.
If you have a cabled weather station, I would attempt to ground the lines before they enter the house just in case.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 09:14:09 AM by DoctorKnow »

Offline WSWeather

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2019, 12:23:42 PM »
But doesn't providing this protecting also make it so that if a disparity of electrical potential exists in the area, that it will be your structure/building with its protection, that will then be hit over and over by lightning? Rather than if there was no protection then maybe you get hit or maybe you don't. Because a nearby tree or building next to you is then the one that offers the path of less resistance out of just randomness of the situation. By providing lightning protection it is then your structure/building that is in fact then protecting everything around you. So better that your neighbor gets the protection than you.

There is a bit of truth to those last two sentences if your structure is significantly taller than those which surround it.  Then again I've seen lighting hit the ground 200 feet from a 500 foot steel tower that it "missed" since that protection only includes a dozen or so feet around the structure itself.

Lightning, as a lawyer would say, is "arbitrary and capricious".  It really follows few rules and we still don't know exactly how and why it acts like it does.  The purpose of lightning protection is to dissipate ground charges before they grow strong enough to create a "streamer", which makes the ionized plasma connection from cloud to ground.  It does not make whatever it is attached to more prone to strikes.

There is empirical evidence that the 'air terminal'-type devices do reduce the number of strikes on towers.  These devices consist of heads which have many small pointy metal spikes which cause a corona effect in their immediate area far below the ionization point of air when a strong opposite charge is overhead and dissipate the ground charge flowing up the structure to lessen the likelihood of a streamer forming from that object.  Old-school Franklin spikes used on barns, etc. have a sharp point with some of the same functionality even though that was not ol' Ben's original intent, which was to divert the strike in a way that didn't burn down the barn.  The air terminal devices generally meet NFPA 780 and UL 96A standards which are mostly concerned with fire risk.

Offline galfert

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2019, 02:45:43 PM »
Okay I hadn't thought about it that way....that lightning protection may in fact prevent a direct lighting hit by dissipation of buildup of smaller electrical charges. Then a big build up of electrical potential is less likely to form mitigating that a lightning hit "streamer".

Very fascinating topic.

1.21 gigawatts anyone?
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Offline Vette-kid

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2019, 03:24:33 PM »
Interesting.  I too, thought that lightning protection systems were to divert the lightning strike rather than stop it altogether.    So would said system have a charge to it during a storm even without visible lightning?

Offline Beaudog

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2019, 04:13:33 PM »
If you have home owners insurance or renters insurance it should cover the strike.

Offline WSWeather

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2019, 04:26:39 PM »
1.21 gigawatts anyone?

More like 200. :)  The average lighting strike carries ~20,000 amps (for about 40 microseconds) at initial voltages exceeding 10,000,000 volts.  Once the streamer "connects" the voltage instantaneously drops to only a few thousand (due to the negative resistance characteristics of ionized gasses) but the current skyrockets to more than 20,000 amps...sometimes far more.  That current instantaneously heats the ionized "air plasma" to temperatures up to 5 times hotter than the sun and the resulting glow is what we see as lightning.  It also blows apart just about anything with a high resistance path to ground including power poles, trees and weather stations.

Offline CW2274

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2019, 04:26:56 PM »
If you have home owners insurance or renters insurance it should cover the strike.
Not in my experience. I had lightning take out my a/c compressor and my insurance told me to take hike.

Offline nincehelser

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2019, 09:29:53 PM »
Interesting.  I too, thought that lightning protection systems were to divert the lightning strike rather than stop it altogether.    So would said system have a charge to it during a storm even without visible lightning?

The best, real lightning protection systems divert the strike safely to ground.

Trying to prevent lightning by local charge dissipation is futile.

Online chief-david

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2019, 09:56:26 PM »
If you have home owners insurance or renters insurance it should cover the strike.
Not in my experience. I had lightning take out my a/c compressor and my insurance told me to take hike.

Not a surprise. Depends on how high your deductible is. Mine would not cover a weather station or the compressor.
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Offline WSWeather

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2019, 10:48:33 PM »
Interesting.  I too, thought that lightning protection systems were to divert the lightning strike rather than stop it altogether.    So would said system have a charge to it during a storm even without visible lightning?

The best, real lightning protection systems divert the strike safely to ground.

Trying to prevent lightning by local charge dissipation is futile.

There is a whole field of study on this which some might find interesting.  This from the Department of Defense (1981) gives a lot of information of the different modes of lighting strikes and also has some measurement designs toward the end. 

https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a158258.pdf

A lot more research has been done over the intervening 38 years which suggests that while all systems need to be designed to safely carry a strike to ground there is some merit to employing dissipation systems as part of the overall protection scheme. The 1981 study linked above touches on this where they recommend blunt rods in lieu of sharp points as their intent was to make these rods more likely to "win" the streamer contest and divert a strike away from the protected area.

Offline renormalize

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2019, 12:02:12 AM »
OP here with an update.

I'm happy to report that my PWS is now back online with a brand new Osprey WH65B array, purchased from Amazon for $100. (Remaining to be installed after they arrive from China are replacement Ecowitt bird spikes.)

For your entertainment, I've attached some additional photos of the damage inflicted by the lightning bolt. It evidently entered through the rain collector, blasting off the bird spikes (little lightning rods?), rain funnel and tipping spoon. The stainless retaining band discolored and separated like a blown fuse, with the heated band melting the black plastic spike-holders wherever they they were in contact and "spot-welding" one of the spikes directly to the band. Also note the extensive charring and severed wires inside the base of the rain collector. The current surge apparently propagated along those wires, frying the solar panel and UV sensor and shattering the windows covering them, as well as overheating and ejecting the AA batteries and cover. (I haven't yet looked inside the array housing but I'd wager it isn't pretty.) All told, quite the carnage!

But in spite of this experience, I'm quite confident about the longevity of my new Osprey hardware. After all, lightning never strikes in the same place twice...right??? :grin:

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Offline CW2274

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2019, 12:29:01 AM »
After all, lightning never strikes in the same place twice...right??? :grin:
Tell that to this guy...  x 7   8-[

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Offline WeatherHost

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Re: My Osprey is TOAST! (Lightning strike)
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2019, 06:06:28 AM »
I think I saw one correct post up there.

Lightning rods, diverters, suppressors .... whatever you want to call them shunt the charge to ground, bypassing whatever they're supposed to be protecting.  Lightning wants to get to ground and will usually take the path of least resistance.  It doesn't care if that path goes through a ground rod, your house/barn/garage wiring or plumbing, your computers/weather stations/gadgets, or you.

The point of a ground rod is to keep that path as short and direct as possible (and to make it easier to drive into the ground, all 8 feet of it).

 
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