Fun Science Fact

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ID 23471371 © Benjamin Todd Shoemake | Dreamstime.com

Now that we’re entering thunderstorm season, I thought I’d put a few facts about lightning out there. I love to watch thunderstorms, but I don’t want to get up close and personal with lightning. I’m sure you don’t either.

Since NOAA began keeping records in 1940, 9,200 people have been killed by lightning strikes in the United States. This is more than the total of people killed by tornadoes (7,400), floods (7,500), or hurricanes (3,000). However, the deaths per year have been decreasing. In 2013, only 23 people died from lightning strikes, most likely due to continued improvement in warning systems and education about the dangers of lightning.

Although some victims are stuck by the main lightning strike, many victims are struck as the current moves along the ground. The fourth of July is one of the deadliest times of year for lightning strikes.

Lightning can strike you up to 10 miles from the source. For your safety, use the 30-30 rule. After you see the lightning, count the time until you hear the thunder. If the time is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is less than 6 miles away and you should seek shelter. Also, stay indoors for 30 minutes after a storm has passed over to ensure the lightning is out of the area.

Be safe this spring everybody!

References: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/02/22143525-lightning-strikes-killed-fewer-americans-than-ever-in-2013?lite,  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/0623_040623_lightningfacts_2.html

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