1982: Lightning strike leads to 50% of a town’s water supply being lost

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Most lightning strikes occur from cloud to cloud – but about 20% go from clouds to the ground. Lightening striking the ground has caused problems with pipes and water supplies.. Some people have also experienced cloudy or discolored water after a lightning storm. Due to the strike, the vibration into the earth can shake a ground water well causing any built-up minerals to fall into the water supply. When lightning strikes near a home or other structure, sending electricity shooting through the ground, the electricity, which prefers to flow through metal rather than dirt, seeks out any buried copper pipes or the home's grounding rod. Building codes require the metal grounding rod to be connected to a home's wiring and pipes. Electricity moves through the pipes until it hits a dead end, such as when the copper pipe meets a plastic service line or some other nonmetallic fitting. Lightening has also coursed through the ground and impacted tree roots and pipes close to those roots. On April 25, 1982 in Lexington, Alabama lightning struck a tree, then reached through its roots to a PVC pipe holding drinking water. Almost 50% of the town’s water supply was lost before the pipe could be repaired.

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