Lightning: The underrated killer
One of my favorite parts of the job of meteorologist is talking to students. I often ask students what they think is the most deadly kind of weather in the US. The number one answer I get is tornadoes, followed by hurricanes and then winter storms. Rarely do I hear flooding and lightning. However, they are the number one and two weather related killers.Posted — Updated
One of my favorite parts of the job of meteorologist is talking to students. When I go on school visits, I usually stress ways to stay safe during severe weather.
I often start my talk by asking the students what they think is the most deadly kind of weather in the U.S. The number one answer I get is tornadoes, followed by hurricanes and then winter storms. Rarely do I hear flooding and lightning. However, they are the number one and two weather related killers.
We’re fortunate in N.C. to have few tornadoes relative to Midwest states. But we are not immune to flooding or lightning. I’ll leave flooding for another day, but neither of these phenomenon tend to strike fear into most of us.
We enjoy being outside in N.C. We have a lot of farmers, golfers, fisherfolk and other outdoor enthusiasts, so our numbers are relatively high. The best rule of thumb to stay safe during lightning is when you can hear thunder, it’s time to get to a safe place. That is relatively easy. Inside a building or a car is a good place to be. If you can’t get to either, stay away from the tallest thing around such as a lone tree or powerpole. Crouch down in a low place, and stay there until the lightning passes.
A couple of years ago, I heard a sad story. A high school soccer team was practicing during a thunderstorm. I can almost hear the coach now saying something like "We’ve got a big game tomorrow. We’ve got to get this last set of drills in before we quit.” The coach and a player were both struck by lightning and killed. It can happen to you. However, it’s fairly easy to stay safe in lighting if you have a little patience.
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.