There are some severe weather hazards that get a lot of press… tornadoes, for example, are attention-grabbers, and they frequently take center stage during preparedness campaigns.
One deadly severe weather threat that doesn’t always make the spotlight, however, is lightning. On their lightning safety web page, the NWS notes that lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun and can get up to 50,000 degrees. Numerous deaths have been recorded caused by a lightning strike. 20% of the victims of lightning have been known to die from the strike while 70% of the survivors of lightning strike may suffer from serious long-term effects. It is the leading cause of weather–related deaths.
When dealing with lightning, one of the biggest things to be aware of is when and where it can strike.
It’s fairly easy to identify a threatening situation and feel compelled to take shelter when the dark and turbulent storm clouds are right over your head. However, when the skies are still clear above you, it’s a little harder to recognize severe weather trouble. Since lightning can travel (and strike) several miles out ahead of the rain, that stormy trouble may already be brewing before the clouds roll in.
“When thunder roars, go indoors.”
If you’re close enough to the storm to hear that ominous rumble, you’re probably close enough to get struck. Which means it’s time to pack up that outdoor activity and hustle into a building or vehicle. If the storm is closing in faster than you can run, and it looks like you may be caught in it for a time, try really hard not to be the tallest object in the area… and also avoid cuddling up against the tallest object in the area.
More info can be found on the NWS lightning safety web page: https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning.