Lightning strike warning issued to convertible drivers in Aylesbury

The weather is set to change dramatically this weekend.

By James Lowson
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 10:24 am

Aylesbury is enjoying the hottest weather its received all year with temperatures getting as high as 30 degrees.

But the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for flooding this weekend and violent electric storms are forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

Motoring experts advise being in a car during lightning strikes is not an imminent danger to life, but soft top drivers could be in peril.

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Thunderstorms are forecast

Graham Conway, general manager of Select Car Leasing, says many drivers believe their rubber tyres will keep them safe – but this is not true.

He added: “If a car is struck by lightning the metal structure acts like a Faraday cage. This means the electricity is sent around the outside of the vehicle and anything, or anyone, inside remains unharmed.

“But if you are driving a convertible, even if you have the roof up you don’t have a complete metal structure surrounding you and that means you could be in trouble.”

Faraday cages are named after English scientist Michael Faraday, who first observed the effect in 1836.

Lightning occurs when tiny ice particles in a storm cloud collide millions of times per second to create an electrical charge.

According to National Geographic, each bolt contains up to one billion volts of electricity and can heat the air to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit – five times hotter than the surface of the Sun.

There are an estimated 300,000 lightning strikes in the UK each year. On June 28, 2012, there were 64,000 strikes in a single 24-hour period.

The Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO) say there are on average two people killed and 30 people injured annually by the natural phenomenon in the UK.

The risk of being hit and killed by lightning is around one in 33 million.

Mr Conway added: “While being in a regular car is fairly safe if lightning strikes, there are still a number of things to consider.

“Make sure you are not touching any metal objects inside the car – including door handles, stereo dials and gear sticks.

“Also, if your vehicle is struck then remain inside until the storm has passed and even then take care touching anything metal outside the car for a period of time afterwards.

“As well as convertibles, fibreglass-bodied cars could be a potential risk because they don’t form the complete metal structure to act like a Faraday cage.

“And you obviously would not want to be on a motorbike in an electrical storm for the same reason.”