Lightning Look-Out

Although thunderstorms impact relatively small areas when compared to winter storms or hurricanes, they are still dangerous.  Thunderstorms can be accompanied by hail, strong winds and flash flooding. Every thunderstorm is accompanied by lightning.

Viewer Tip: In 2011, there have been 13 lightning fatalities* in the United States – all of them have occurred outdoors. Lightning may strike up to ten miles outside of heavy rainfall.  Keep these tips in mind to stay safe.

  • Look and listen for cues. If you hear thunder, you are in danger from lightning.  Seeing lightning and hearing thunder very close together means that lightning is striking nearby.
  • Avoid “natural lightning rods.” Lightning is attracted to metal, poles and rods.  Avoid golf clubs, baseball bats, fishing poles, bicycles, tractors and camping equipment during a storm.
  • Find shelter. A sturdy building is the safest place during a thunderstorm.  Avoid gazebos, baseball dugouts, picnic shelters, golf carts, bleachers and other isolated objects in open spaces.

Find more lightning safety tips from National Weather Service: www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/overview.htm.

*This number has been updated. For the latest statistics, visit http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/fatalities.htm.

(Sources: National Weather Service. “When Lightning Roars, Go Indoors!” http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/ and Coalition of Organizations for Disaster Education. “Talking about disaster: Guide for standard messages.” https://www.crossnet.org/disaster/disasterguide/; NWS Lightning Safety: Fatalities, http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/fatalities.htm)

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