Lightning Safety

An approaching cold front will increase thunderstorm chances over the next two days. Any thunderstorm can produce severe weather. Additionally, the Storm Prediction Center has identified the Mid Atlantic region as under a slight risk for severe storms on Thursday.

Severe or not, the greatest threat from any thunderstorm is lightning. I thought I would pass along some tips on lightning safety from the National Weather Service and the National Environmental Education Foundation.

Source: NOAA/National Weather Service


During the summer, thunderstorms occur more frequently due to warm, moist air.  Approximately 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring at any given time.  They usually last about 30 minutes and are typically 15 miles in diameter.  Lightning occurs in all thunderstorms.

Viewer Tip: Lightning strikes the Earth 20 million times per year!  The best place to be during a thunderstorm is indoors. If you do get caught outdoors, these tips can help reduce your risk of being struck by lightning:

  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land immediately.
  • Take shelter in your vehicle, if possible.  Picnic shelters, dugouts and tents are not safe shelters during a storm.
  • If you cannot get to a vehicle, find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles.  Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
  • Get off of elevated areas, like hills, peaks or mountain ridges. Do not take shelter under a cliff or rocky overhang.
  • Never lie flat on the ground.

Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning!

Learn more about lightning safety from NOAA’s National Weather

John Collins

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