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Tornados Aside, Storms Can Kill With Lightning Speed

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RALEIGH — It's the time of the year when, in a flash, the weather can turn deadly. North Carolina ranks second in the country when it comes to lightning deaths, so it pays to be aware of the dangers of lightning.

It's no secret that lightning is dangerous, and a golf course is one of the most dangerous places to be during a lightning-producing storm. When conditions turn bad, some golfers want to continue playing, but playing that extra hole could be deadly.

Meteorologist Allan Reirdon says it may well be that the number of golf courses in the South contributes to the number of lightning strikes.

"There are a lot of golf courses here," says Reirdon. "That may be a factor why in the Southeast, in Florida for example and North Carolina in particular, there are a lot of lightning deaths."

North Carolina has one of the highest lightning death rates in the country. Golf courses are targets because of metal pipes, sprinklers and trees.

For players who want to play on spite of potentially dangerous conditions, some precautions must be taken

Duke golf course associate Sean Taylor says some courses keep a close watch on the weather.

"Here at the Duke golf club what we do is we have pretty good access to Internet ... keep track of the storms rolling in," says Taylor. "On several sites they have lightning tracks, and that's where we keep up with the lightning."

Most courses also have air horns, several lightning shelters, and rangers patroling the course.

Taylor says course workers will actually go out and get golfers if conditions appear to be too dangerous for play.

"When it gets really bad we take out covered carts, we have sport utility vehicles that will go ahead and cart people off the course."

Some golfers say putting down the clubs and seeking shelter, will increase one's chances of living to play another day.

Last year, a man was killed while playing on a Durham golf course.