Severe Weather Awareness Week: Lightning

Published: Mar. 26, 2020 at 6:33 PM CDT
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Thursday's topic for Severe Weather Awareness Week is lightning.

Lightning can be one of the most spectacular weather phenomena around, but it is extremely powerful and can be deadly.

On average, 49 people are killed every year from lightning and hundreds more are injured. Many people don't take lightning as seriously because the odds of being struck by lightning are so slim, but it happens every year.

The phrase we like to use to protect ourselves from lightning is, "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!" This is a good way to keep you and your family safe because if you can hear thunder, that means you are close enough to be struck by lightning! A lightning bolt can actually strike 10 to 15 miles away from it's parent thunderstorm. So in theory, it may not even be raining wherever you are, but if you can hear the thunder you're close enough to get struck by lightning and need to move indoors.

Even if you're inside, it's not a 100% guarantee that you are safe. Lightning can still enter a building through a direct strike, through wires or pipes, or even through the ground. You should wait at least 30 minutes inside before going back out if you hear thunder or see lightning.

We also hear often that "lightning can't strike the same place twice", but that phrase is not true. In fact, lightning strikes the same place multiple times and does so quite often. Lightning is always searching for the tallest object it can find, so naturally tall buildings and skyscrapers are oftentimes strike multiple times by lightning bolts. It is because lightning is always searching for the tallest object it can find that you don't want to take shelter from a thunderstorm under a tree - in case that tree is struck by lightning!

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