Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lightning Safety Awareness Week Has Good Reminders for all of Us

Officially it is Lightning Safety Awareness week here in the Lafayette area. We have plenty of lightning in the forecast so this is a great time to go over a few tips you can use and that can really save your life. It is hard to believe that no weather watches or warnings are issued for lightning even though only flooding kills more people during severe weather. At the weather conference I was at in Cleveland this year, this point was made and I was told that this could in fact change in the future. We will see! The sooner the better because lightning reaches temperatures up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit yet many folks like sitting on their porch to watch storms move in. If you see lightning and hear a crash of thunder in less than 5 seconds you know that lightning is striking less than a mile away. Here is the math formula to remember.

If you count under 15 second you certainly want to seek shelter, but remember you are in danger whenever you can hear thunder. The big thing to remember is if you can hear thunder you can be struck by lightning. When the thunder roars outdoors, get indoors. If you cannot do this you will want to spread out from others and stay away from tall objects. You never want to lie flat on the ground. Stay low and crouch down on the balls of your feet. Remember lightning comes from the ground up and meets another bolt in the middle of the sky. It moves so fast our eyes only see one bolt. Many times lightning travels several miles outside the main cloud and most people are struck outside when it is not raining. Unfortunately this has helped to contribute to an average of about 70 lightning fatalities a year in the United States. Here is how Indiana stacks up compared to other states.

Florida ranks number one with 71 fatalities and only Delaware and Washington state recorded no fatalites in this 10 year span. So make sure to treat lightning as seriously as you would any other severe thunderstorm. If you see it flee it and if you hear it clear.

We will have to remember this advice with plenty of lightning and more widespread rain in the forecast. We will also have some heat relief and it could not come soon enough after yesterday's heat index values near 100 in the shade. It was amazing how portions of Jasper County had up to 5 inches of rain while here at WLFI we had nothing. Look for all of us to see some more needed rain by late tonight and Tuesday as a slow-moving cold front moves through the area. Join me tonight for the latest on Live Doppler 18 and we will track lighting and heavy rain moving our way. The weekend still looks super! Thanks for reading and have a great day.

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