Four Lightning Fatalities In A Week
Lightning killed four people and injured at least a dozen others over the past week, with deaths reported from Arizona to Alabama.
Two people were killed last Tuesday in Opp, Alabama when a couple was struck by lightning while trying to cover their chickens and shelter them from the rain, according to AL.com. A roofer in Port Orange, Florida (near Orlando) was struck and killed by lightning as he worked on Friday. A day later, a 24-year-old woman was killed while hiking in northern Arizona as she sought shelter from a storm under a pine tree in the Mogollon Rim.
Lightning has killed more people so far in 2015 (through late Monday) than tornadoes – by a 13 to 10 count. On average, lightning kills 61 per year in the United States, almost as many as tornadoes (76), floods (86) and more than hurricanes (47), according to 60-year averages from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
While the peak of severe weather season is winding down, that doesn’t mean the risk for lightning is dissipating with it. General, “garden-variety” thunderstorms are most plentiful during the mid-summer months, when the year’s top heat and humidity levels lead to widespread thunderstorms from coast-to-coast.
Remember the old and simplest rule: when thunder roars, head indoors. Lightning-associated fatalities and injuries are freak occurrences, but the sure fire way to avoid them is to simply seek shelter when you hear thunder. If you can hear thunder (the noise of which is caused by the sudden rush of energy from the force of lightning), you are close enough to potentially be struck. Also, never seek shelter from a storm under a tree – due to their height and exposure, trees are often struck by lightning, and the energy travels down its spine, putting those nearby them at risk of a strike.
Be sure to stay weather aware and with WeatherNation for the most up-to-date forecasts through severe weather season.
Meteorologist Chris Bianchi