Tornado Awareness
Lightning causes around 58 deaths in the U.S. annually. Nationally, lightning ranks second only to flash floods in weather-related deaths. Lightning is the most frequent important weather threat to personal safety during the thunderstorm season. Lightning is the MOST UNDERRATED weather hazard.


New Mexico is among the leaders in annual rates of lightning fatalities and injuries. Why? The main reason is that people stay outside too long as thunderstorms approach or form nearby. During the early part of the thunderstorm season, for example May and June, "dry" thunderstorms are quite common. With these types of thunderstorms, little or no precipitation reaches the ground and, as a result, people are less likely to seek shelter. Click below for statistics on lightning events (resulting in property or crop damage, injuries or fatalities) by month and by hour.

Studies have shown most people struck by lightning are struck not at the height of a thunderstorm, but before and after the storm has peaked. This shows many people are unaware of how far lightning can strike from its parent thunderstorm. DO NOT wait for the rain to start before seeking shelter, and do not leave shelter just because the rain has ended.

Did you know?
  • The air near a lightning strike is heated to 50,000 degrees F, that is hotter than the surface of the sun!
  • The average flash could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months.
  • Lightning occurs with all thunderstorms.
It's not raining, is there still danger from being struck by lightning? YES! Lightning often strikes outside of the heavy rain area and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Will the rubber soles of my shoes or tires on my car protect me from being struck? NO! However, the steel frame of a hard-topped car provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside the car than outside.

To roughly estimate the distance in miles between you and the lightning flash, count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder and divide by 5.

When skies darken or thunderstorms are forecast look and listen for increasing wind, flashes of lightning, sound of thunder, and static on your am radio. While no place is safe from lightning, some places are much safer than others.
 
Bolt from the Blue
  1. Get inside a house, large shelter or an all-metal vehicle (not a convertible).
  2. Only use a (corded) telephone in an emergency.
  3. Remain clear of tall, isolated trees and telephone poles.
  4. Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines or metal pipes and rails.
  5. If you are caught outside, away from shelter, you need to get to a place of safety as quickly as possible.
  6. Wait 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder before going outside.
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
 

 What you can do...

  • Watch for signs of an approaching thunderstorm
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. This is your best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation
  • REMEMBER if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning
  • If possible, move to a sturdy building or hard top automobile
  • If safe shelter is not available, find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles
  • If boating or swimming, get out of boats and away from the water, get to land and find shelter immediately

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