What is Lightning?
Lightning is a weather pattern associated with thunderstorms. It is a type of electric current that is produced in the clouds. Lightning can occur within a single cloud, between multiple clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. Lightning is similar to the static electric shock that one can receive after walking across carpet and then touching something metallic, only lightning is much more powerful and therefore more dangerous.
Is Lightning Really Dangerous?
Lightning can be extremely dangerous. Each year, many people are injured by lightning and some even die from their injuries. People often underestimate the danger by thinking that they are safe from a storm. This may be because they see storm clouds in the distance and misjudge how far away the storm actually is, or because they wait until it starts raining to seek shelter.
Where Can Lightning Strike?
Lightning can happen whenever there is a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms occur all over the world, often during the spring and summer. The majority of lightning strikes occurs in areas near the equator. In the United States, Florida receives the highest number of lightning strikes each year.
How Can You Tell How Far Away a Storm Is?
The sound of thunder and the flash of lightning can be used to determine how far away a storm is. Count how many seconds are between the flash of lightning you see and the thunderclap that you hear. Take the number of seconds that you counted and divide it by the number five. This gives you the distance in miles that the storm is from you.
When You Are Caught in a Storm, What Can You Do?
If you become caught in a storm, seek shelter immediately. If you are able to, go indoors or get into a car with a hard top. When indoors do not use appliances, telephones, computers, and do not take a bath or shower. If you are stuck outside, make sure to stay away from trees, metallic objects, water, and other people.
What Kinds of Shelters Are There?
When a storm is approaching, it is advisable to seek shelter as quickly as possible. The best shelter from lightning is a closed-in building with plumbing and electrical wiring so the electricity from the lightning can be conducted to the ground. Cars can also be an adequate shelter, as long as they have hardtop roofs. Examples of bad shelters include outside sports bleachers, picnic pavilions, and sheds.
Lightning Safety Information
Lightning Pictures and Weather Information