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Model 3 struck by lightning 3 times in one day?

Professor Proton is that you Tronguy?
View attachment 808027
Nope. But those of us who, shall we say, get involved with compliance testing to EMC standards get, sometimes, to play with the Big Sparks.

The real Professor Protons types are the Physicists and Chemists in undergrad Physics and Chemistry. They all have their collections of demos that would blow your socks off, sometimes literally. A favorite on the chemistry side is showing how thermite bombs work. (And.. my Dad, who taught organic chemistry, used to have fun showing how lighting off a can filled with pollen and a tight fitting lid could get the lid to just touch the ceiling, fifty feet up.)

Undergraduate STEM is rightly understood to be Nerd City, 12+ hours a day of classes and studying during the week, at least 6+ hours on the weekends, and some serious weekend partying to make up for the grind. But we get our fun moments, too. Let's see.. there were those mechanical engineering types who had a kind of competition to see how fast they could get a charcoal grill running, ending up with beakers of liquid oxygen. A Weber would survive the experience, but the K-Mart special ended up as rubble. Sadly, the local fire department had to put a stop to it all. Fun while it lasted.

Those who think that STEM is all boring stuff involving paperwork and drudge just haven't met any practicing Rocket Scientists.
 

BigNick

Infamous Fat Sweaty Guy
Dec 3, 2017
2,019
2,209
Pennsylvania, USA
Saying this all cautiously.. When Lightning Strikes, it's not just the obvious bolt touching down on the (usually tall) object at hand. There's a huge number of columbs of electrons dumped into the ground; these then flow through the ground, through the air, and away as the charge is equalized. (Or depending upon the polarity of the strike, it may have been a huge number of electrons that got removed from the local environs, in which case a whole buncha electrons move towards where the pile of electrons were removed.)
Either way, there are some serious ground currents of Large Magnitudes moving around; and Great Big Electric Fields associated with these movements.
Just so we're clear on this: This is not somebody running a brush or comb through dry hair and getting a "snap" or two in the process. Those kind of snaps are up in the 5 kV to 50 kV range. Lightning strikes themselves have E-fields up in the millions of volts per meter; the H fields, associated with the currents are in the millions of amps per meter.

Rise and fall times of the strike and the immediate aftermath are in sub-nanosecond rise and fall times, which is why one can hear lightning strikes on radios, sometimes miles away. We're talking significant amounts of radio frequency energy; any wire in free space (like those ones on the power poles) near a strike are going to absorb all this stuff, which is why the house next door to the strike often loses all the electronics in the house, whee!

(If you haven't figured this out yet: Yes, I do do lightning surge testing, part time, for a living. Most of the stuff I work with is inside buildings and isn't subject to a direct strike. Instead, the iron members of the building take the strike; there's a big surge of current down the girder on its way to ground; and the electromagnetic fields coming off the girder cut through wires inside the building and can cause, literally, thousands of volts to appear on wires with No Direct Contact.

What I really love are the standards for those grey boxes on street corners. The interior of the box is covered with a certain grade of cheesecloth, the box sealed up, and then the box is hit with a "Test" lightning strike. The standard says, and I quote, "The Equipment Under Test shall not become a fire or fragmentation hazard."

I can safely report that there Reasons telecom stays up during lightning storms; those Reasons include extensive testing to standards. And those standards are written by PhD types who write Serious Papers on Exactly What It Looks Like When Lightning Strikes.

I don't know nearly as much about the City Power grid: But pretty much anything that plugs into a wall socket has designed-in lightning surge protection to a certain level, and that includes anything from a TV to a refrigerator to a cell phone charger wall wart. Now, a direct strike on the pole outside of one's house might exceed those levels, but mundane (ha!) strikes from down the block will leave people's stuff mostly intact.)

The magnitude of the currents and voltages flying through the air have been known to cause Ball Lightning, self-sustaining balls of ionized plasma that have been known to melt their way through (!) glass windows. (I've even read some notes from wishful-thinking cold fusion types that these are actually powered by fusion.. don't think so, but the Why of ball lightning, far as I know, is still actively being researched.)

Now, having said all this, there is a sure-fire way to keep all the electromagnetic energy from a lightning strike from frying something, or someone: It's called a Faraday Cage. Build a six-sided box with fine conductive screen all around (or solid metal, if one prefers) and the electric fields inside the box are Zero. Outside, anything you like: But inside, Zero. In Electromag Physics I personally watched a demo where a volunteer was placed in such a 8'x15'x15' box up on the stage; the Prof had this weird piece of machinery with an 8' rotating copper disk in it, a cable with thick insulation like you would not believe with a naked 4' long piece of metal on the end, he had thick, heavy gloves on, and approached the cage with the end. It threw, I kid you not, a steady five-foot arc onto the screen of the cage, while that disk whirled frantically. Our volunteer inside the box put his hands flat on the screen on the inside of where the arc was grounding itself and said the fateful words, "It tickles a bit." The rest of us in the Lecture Hall were just impressed.

Now, take ye old-timey 1950's car built from pig iron. It's got some windows, sure: But all that metal out there is a fair approximation of a Faraday Cage. It's not the "insulating tires" that makes it safe: If a lightning strike just blew through several thousand feet of insulating air, what makes one think that, after all that energy hits a car, it's not going to jump the six inches from the car to the ground? Currents are going to flow like mad on the outside skin of the car, but not on the inside.. where the sensitive electronics (shielded, in metal boxes, I might note) and people might be sitting. Inside, the E-field is zero. And that's why the safest place to be in a lightning storm is inside a car.

Now, the difference between one of those pig-iron cars and a Tesla is that the Tesla has a glass roof. So, unless Tesla has made the glass electrically conductive (which they very well might have), sitting in a Tesla is probably more like sitting in a convertible with the top down. My 2018 M3 has one of those glass roofs on top that turn this pretty orange color when it gets wet, so that color may be due to something conductive. That might very well be the case; but I have no direct knowledge.

In any case: Get big enough E-fields and H-fields changing fast enough, rapidly enough, and one can get GHz-style electromagnetic radiation, and that can go through the windows on a car. Wouldn't hurt people, but it would induce rapidly changing currents on interior wires. So one might get the OP's observed effects of the electronics going mildly crazy. What sounds more hopeful is that the car appears to have survived intact. And that, I presume, is because in some industrial lot somewhere there's a lightning strike simulator that Tesla engineers put their new designs through. (I'll even put up a nickel as a bet that there's bunches of ANSI/SAE standards for lightning withstand.. hang on a sec, let me check.. Yep, here's one, one simple Google search.)

Sometimes, engineering gets to be real fun. I've got this ESD gun at work. It's old, but looks like it's straight out of Star Wars, with a double pistol-grip, pointy tip, and everything. Point it at people sixty yards away and they duck. But the most it will do is a half-inch spark 😁.
I was thinking just the deafening noise and vibration from being within a few meters of a strike would be enough "violence" to set off the alarm. Never gave any of this a thought.
 
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Actually tires are made to conduct to prevent static charge build up. Especially important when fueling. There is carbon in them for that purpose.

But I agree unlikely his car was struct 3 times. Was he watching his car that closely to see a bolt hit it?
I kinda doubt that. Why are ground cables connected to aircraft when refueling? They have rubber tires.
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
8,402
7,941
MA, NH
Regarding car tires it’s pretty well known
Well getting rid of a little static charge is a bit different than discharging
10K volts. If this was a good ground, my guess is we have cars
blown up by lighting every day in Texas. I believe it has something to
the shortest path to ground impeadence wize or something like that.
Never measured it.
Back in the old days they had strips that hung down and rubbed the ground,
AM radio I think was the issue.
 
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mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
8,402
7,941
MA, NH
Well getting rid of a little static charge is a bit different than discharging
10K volts. If this was a good ground, my guess is we have cars
blown up by lighting every day in Texas. I believe it has something to
the shortest path to ground impeadence wize or something like that.
Never measured it.
Lightning will travel the least resistive path to ground. Period. If you are next to a house or trees it’s highly unlikely to hit the car. If you are in the plains your car is a target.

That’s why golfers are at high risk.

Typically during lightning storms your car is also wet. Very wet.

For a less resistive path, it just needs to be less than air. It doesn’t need to be gold plated copper.

Even if the car was floating in air and on a plain the car is still less resistance to ground because of the metal body. It will hit the roof and pass through it and jump to ground. It will take a short cut through the less resistive path. Carbon in the tires just makes it all the more enticing.
 
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For a less resistive path, it just needs to be less than air. It doesn’t need to be gold plated copper.
Well mine is and a have never been hit with lighting.
I do not think water plays a role, If you have paint on your car, I have had several
that did not well it anyone's guess. It does not get much flater than Texas.
I think the silly side of this makes more fun. TTFNNM
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
8,402
7,941
MA, NH
Well mine is and a have never been hit with lighting.
I do not think water plays a role, If you have paint on your car, I have had several
that did not well it anyone's guess. It does not get much flater than Texas.
I think the silly side of this makes more fun. TTFNNM
Just because you have not been hit I doubt it’s because you’re on “rubber” (insulated) tires.
 
I was thinking just the deafening noise and vibration from being within a few meters of a strike would be enough "violence" to set off the alarm. Never gave any of this a thought.
Yes....My Model 3 alarm activated from a thunderstorm, and from loud exhaust system on ICEmobile doing a "rumble-athon" drive thru a parking garage. Vibration-triggered alarm.
 
Two things:
First, at one of my places of work in the past, they used to do EMC testing for emissions from electronics equipment. Most of the time when people do this kind of thing they put the gear in an anechoic chamber with nifty electromagnetic absorbing tiles and pyramid-style shapes on the walls. In this particular place I worked, they had, instead, built on the knoll of a small hill, a fiberglass building with nary a piece of metal in it. The FCC thought it was wonderful: Accurate electromagnetic emissions measurements! You don't have to worry about how well the EMC-absorbing tiles and what-all were working!

There was one problem, however. Any time a thunderstorm came anywhere near, we'd lower the Equipment Under Test (it stood on an elevator for the purpose), cover the hole up with a blank metal sheet, and then we'd all beat feet the heck out of there. Up a bit high: Check. Conductive floor: Check. Lightning will go straight through standard issue fiberglass: Also check. That place was dangerous to be in during a lightning storm.

Second thing: Somebody up there in the thread above sort of said that a tree on a hill, being up high, would be likely to be hit by lightning. Correct.

But there was some verbiage after that might be construed to mean that if one stood under that tree one would be OK. Because, well, the tree would be hit, not the person standing under it?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. If one runs under the tallest tree around to get Out Of The Rain, then that's a Great Way To Die. If a lightning bolt hits a tree there's every likelihood that additional, secondary bolts, both visible and non-visible, will zap out from that tree to the ground. Being under a tree situated like that is Not A Good Idea. In fact, if one is near a tree like that (isolated, high(er) up), the best thing is to back off a couple of hundred feet. And then, if you're the only tall object in immediate vicinity, lying down on the ground and taking the rain drops in the face is the Right Thing To Do. You may be wet, but you'll be alive.
 

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