June 24-30, 2012 is National Lightning Safety Week.
Throughout this week the National Weather Service in Jackson will emphasize lightning safety.
Each day a different topic will be highlighted.
Whereas lightning can be fascinating to watch...it is extremely dangerous. Each year, in the United States, lightning kills an average of 54 people and injures about another 300 people. Lightning ranks number three in weather related killers behind tornadoes and flooding. The actual number of people who are injured or die due to lightning is likely as much as 30 percent more due to undocumented injuries and deaths. Between 1959 and 2010, Arkansas ranks 11th in the country with 122 lightning deaths. Mississippi ranks 15th with 104 deaths, and Louisiana ranks 8th with 138 deaths. Yet because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time, it generally does not cause the mass destruction left in the wake of tornadoes or hurricanes. lightning receives much less attention than other weather threats.
Photo Courtesy Bethany Jones, Holly Ridge, LA
During a thunderstorm, each cloud-to-ground lightning strike is a potential killer. Lightning deaths can be prevented only if people are aware of the dangers and seek shelter in a building or a hard topped vehicle. Lightning can strike as much as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm. That is about the distance that you are able to hear the thunder from the storm. If you can hear the thunder from a storm, you are close enough to be struck by lightning! To make people aware of this fact, the National Weather Service uses the phrase “when thunder roars...go indoors” as an easy reminder of the threat of lightning.
Photo from www.gotweird.com
Where organized sports activities are taking place, coaches umpires, referees or camp counselors must protect the safety of the participants and spectators by stopping the activities sooner so that participants and spectators can get to a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant.
We encourage everyone to take advantage of this lightning awareness week to review their plans and discuss with their
families the dangers of lightning. Simply moving indoors when you see lightning or hear thunder can save lives.
Tomorrow we will discuss the science of lightning.
For additional information... please contact the National Weather service office in Jackson, Mississippi or visit the lightning safety awareness week web site at http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/.