|WHAT IS LIGHTNING?
- The action of rising and descending
air within a thunderstorm separates positive
and negative charges. Water and ice particles
also affect the distribution of charge.
- Lightning results from the buildup and
discharge of electrical energy between
positively and negatively charged areas.
- The average flash could light a 100
watt bulb for more than 3 months!
- Most lightning occurs within the cloud
or between the cloud and ground.
- Your chances of being struck by lightning
are estimated to be 1 in 600,000, but
could be reduced by following safety rules.
- Most lightning deaths occur when people
are caught outdoors.
- Most lightning casualties occur in the
summer months and during the afternoon
and early evening.
- The air near a lightning strike is heated
to 50,000 degrees F - hotter
than the surface of the sun!
The rapid heating and cooling of air near
the lightning channel causes a shock wave
that results in thunder.
- Many fires in the western states and
Alaska are started by lightning. In the
past decade, over 15,000 lightning-induced
fires nationwide have resulted in several
hundred million dollars a year in damage,
and the loss of 2 million forest acres.
* Credit for the above photos,
in order, go to Warren Faidley, Weatherstock 1991,
and the Phoenix Gazette *
LIGHTNING SAFETY RULES
Postpone outdoor activities
if thunderstorms are imminent. This is your
best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous
Move to a sturdy building or
car. Do not take shelter in small sheds, under
isolated trees, or in convertible automobiles.
Stay away from tall objects such as towers,
fences, telephone poles, and power lines.
If lightning is occurring and
a sturdy shelter is not available, get inside
a hardtop automobile and keep the windows
up. Avoid touching any metal.
Utility lines and metal pipes
can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances
not necessary for obtaining weather information.
Avoid using the telephone or any electrical
appliances. Use phones ONLY in an emergency!
Do not take a bath or shower
during a thunderstorm.
Turn off air conditioners. Power
surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
rule - Go indoors if,
after seeing lightning, you cannot count to
30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for
30 minutes after hearing the last clap of
For additional safety information,
check out: www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov
IF CAUGHT OUTDOORS
AND NO SHELTER IS NEARBY
Find a low spot away from trees,
fences, and poles. Make sure the place you
pick is not subject to flash flooding.
If you are in the woods, take
shelter under the shorter trees.
If you feel your skin tingle
or your hair stand on end, squat low to the
ground on the balls of your feet. Place your
hands over your ears and your head between
your knees. Make yourself the smallest target
possible and minimize your contact with the
ground. DO NOT lie down!
If you are boating or swimming,
get to land and find shelter immediately!
HOW FAR AWAY IS THE
MYTHS AND FACTS
If it is not raining, then there is
no danger from lightning.
Lightning often strikes outside
of heavy rain and may occur as far
as 10 miles away from the rainfall.
The rubber soles of shoes or rubber
tires on a car will protect you from
being struck by lightning.
Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires
provide NO protection from lightning.
However, the steel frame of a hard-toped
vehicle provides increased protection
if you are not touching metal. Although
you may be injured if lightning
strikes your car, you are much safer
inside a vehicle than outside.
People struck by lightning carry an
electrical charge and should not be
Lightning-strike victims carry no
electrical charge and should be
attended to immediately. Contact
your local American Red Cross chapter
for information on CPR and first
"Heat Lightning" occurs
after very hot summer days and poses
What is referred to as "heat
lightning" is actually lightning
from a thunderstorm too far away
for thunder to be heard. However,
the storm may be moving in your