Spring is here, and with it…comes thunderstorms!

Lightning, Storm, City, Urban Scene, Heat Lightning

Did you know that according to the National Weather Service, lightning kills more people on average per year than tornadoes?  Yet, it’s also rare to get struck by lightning, much less killed by it.  The National Weather Service estimates that you have about a 1 in 15,300 chance of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime.  Of those struck, about 20% are killed, 70% have long-term issues, and 10% have minor injuries.  It's both rare and serious at the same time.

Personally speaking, I have a mixed relationship with lightning.  I think watching a thunderstorm from safely inside a building or vehicle can be extremely cool and fascinating.  That said, I’m a total chicken being outside when I hear thunder in the distance.  I remember playing baseball in high school.  I was in right field, and I saw lightning in the distance, followed by thunder a short time later.  I started running off the field before the game had even been postponed!

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Was I correct in running off the field?  Yes, yes I was.  Even if I didn’t see the lightning, just by hearing the thunder means you’re in danger of being struck.  Here are some other tips for keeping safe (other than just going straight indoors).


Photo by Max Saeling on Unsplash

Don’t stand next to a tree!  I get it, it’s human nature to take shelter and want to feel protected…but a tree isn’t going to help with lightning.  Basically, lightning is looking for an easy path to the ground, and a tree has a big bullseye on it.  If you’re standing next to the tree and the tree gets hit…the tree is taking you with it.

Don’t stay in a tent!  While a tent might protect you from the rain, it’s not going to protect you from lightning.  Check the forecast and have a plan if thunderstorms are a possibility during your camping trip.

Don’t stay on an unenclosed porch!  It’s great that your porch might have a roof, but if the sides are open, it offers no protection from lightning.

Don’t assume lightning won’t strike twice!  Despite the saying, lightning can strike the same place twice!

Don’t crouch in a field.  The National Weather Service says crouching in a field basically offers no more protection than standing.  You’re safest bet is to continue to head towards the nearest shelter.

Again, while it’s rare to be struck by lightning (especially in the northeast), it’s also not something you ever want to mess around with.  I’ll always be that guy running off the baseball field instead of taking my chances with a 50,000 degree bolt of lightning!

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.

Gallery Credit: KATELYN LEBOFF

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