WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

"The thunder rolls...

Posted June 23, 2009 10:46 a.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2009 10:53 a.m. EDT

...and the lightning strikes!" 

Or so the now-famous ditty by Garth Brooks says.  Of course, it is the other way around — lightning first, then thunder — but that's a point for another post.

Today's message is all about lightning.  Did you know:

  • 15 people have already been killed this year due to lightning strikes?
  • 28 people were killed by lightning last year, and hundreds more were permanently injured?

Sad, but true, and all of these were 100% preventable.  That's why this week is Lightning Safety Week.  Spring and summer thunderstorms produce a lot of lightning, and people are more likely to be outside and away from shelter during these "outdoorsy" months.

During 2008, 100% (yes, all of them!) of the people killed by lightning were outside when they were struck, nearly a third were under a tree, and more than a quarter were on or near the water.  When lightning is a possibility, then, it makes sense to be inside or at least away from water, as well as away from trees, power lines, and other tall objects.

There are two rules of thumb to keep in mind when it comes to lightning:

The 30/30 rule — Get inside if the time between the flash of the lightning and the bang of the thunder is 30 seconds or less and stay inside until you haven't seen lightning or heard thunder for at least 30 minutes.

. . . or, put even more straightforwardly . . .

When thunder roars, go indoors!