The Danger of Lightning

In Ohio and Michigan, out over Lake Erie, lightning can put on a magnificent show, spectacular flashes of light and of course the rolling thunder.  But as News 11 Meteorologist Scott Brown tells us, lightning is one of nature's most unpredictable forces, and therein lies the danger.

It can strike from any storm, and can hit from a cloud overhead or one as far as 25 miles away.  Though your chances of getting struck by lightning are about 1 in 700,000, lightning kills more people than any other kind of storm, including hurricanes and tornadoes.

So how do you stay safe?  It's called the 30-30 rule.  As soon as you see lightning, start counting until you hear thunder.  If the number is less than 30 seconds. find shelter.  You should stay inside until 30 minutes after the last thunderclap.

More than half of all lightning deaths happen after a storm has passed.  So can you ever tell when lightning may be about to strike?  Try this.  Put your arm very close to the front of a TV screen when it is on. See how the hair is standing up on your arm.  If you are in or near a storm and feel this, or your hair is standing up, lightning may be about to strike. 
Here are some interesting facts to remember:

  • Lightning strikes the earth 100 times every second and kills around one hundred people every year in the United States. That's more than tornados.
  • Your chances of getting struck by lightning are about 1 in 700,000.  You have a bigger chance of hitting four numbers plus the Mega Ball on a single Mega Millions ticket.
  • Thunderstorms produce lightning and often it strikes outside heavy rain. In fact, lightning can occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
  • About two-thirds of lightning occurs from cloud to cloud.
  • If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. A lightning strike may be imminent.

If you want to know what that feeling is like, put your arm very close to the front of a television screen when it's on so the hair on your arm stands up. If you are in or near a storm and feel this, you may be in danger.

There are a lot of urban legends about lightning.  Here are a few:

Can lightning really strike twice? While urban legend says no – that answer couldn¡¯t be more wrong. The fact is that lightning has favorite sites that it may hit several times.

Posted by AEB