Lightning Safety - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Lightning Safety

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In an average year in the United States, about 60 people die and hundreds more are injured by lightning strikes.

Ohio is ranked in the top ten states for lightning fatalities. Although peak lightning season occurs during the warm, sticky summer months of June and July when tall storms are most numerous, lightning strikes have been recorded in the middle of winter.

The most important message from the National  Weather Service is "When lightning roars, go indoors." You are safe inside an enclosed shelter, though you should not use a corded telephone or take a shower, because current can travel through the electrical system, plumbing and telephone wires. Television sets and computers are often zapped in a near-direct hit around your property.

Lightning results from the build-up of electric charges in a growing thunderstorm and represents a discharge after air resistance is overcome. Current flows upward from tall objects and along metal fences and poles, which are especially dangerous when a storm approaches.  When the connection is made between downward and upward current, a series of lightning strokes (2-20) normally follows along the path of least resistance. This is why it's essential to be indoors or in your vehicle during a storm.

The first strike is typically the most deadly (cloud-to-ground), and may occur 5-10 miles away from the center of the storm, referred to as a "bolt from the blue." You need to take cover and exit water and athletic fields as soon as thunder is heard, and wait inside for the storm to pass.

NBC4 keeps you safe with prompt weather warnings on-air and online throughout the storm season, but not all storms trigger thunderstorm warnings (58 mph-plus winds, large hail) and even small storms can produce dangerous lightning.

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