What happens to the fish when lightning strikes a lake? - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

What happens to the fish when lightning strikes a lake?


“Will lightning kill the fish when it hits the water?”

That’s the question many of you have been asking since watching the video of a lightning strike on Lake Athens, Monday. It was caught on camera when 16-year-old, Tucker Owings, was out fishing.

“Started the engine, took off, and we were going and out of nowhere that flash just popped right in front of the boat,” he said.

He was fine - no fried fish for dinner either - but it spawned that question, what happened to the fish?

“Well it has to do with the fact that when lightning hits the surface of the water, the charge from the lightning bolt is actually dispersed across the surface area of the lake, it doesn’t usually penetrate through the water,” Grant Dade, a KLTV Meteorologist, said.

But what about that warning to keep your electronics, like hair dryers, away from your bath tub?

That would fry us, but not the fish?

“The electricity is not going to disperse because it’s just not that big of an area,” Dade said.

A bath tub is much smaller than a lake, so that electricity is much more condensed. He also noted that when dropping a hair dryer in the water, it tends to sink all the way down, causing that electricity to fill the tub.

The teens on the lake, however, would have felt something. Though the lightning wouldn’t have killed them, according to Dade “it hit the water out in front of them, so they probably didn’t feel a dangerous charge,” he said, “but they could probably tell they were close to the lightning.”

Lightning checks in at 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so the heat would have been noticeable.

“A lightning bolt is about the same diameter as a pencil, once the lightning or the electricity hits the water, it spreads out across the surface area, keeping most of what’s under the water, safe,” he said.

Regardless, on a rainy day, he says it’s safest to stay out of the water and off the lake. Unless, of course, you’re a fish.

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