Lightning Facts You Need to Know!

Lighting safety is always important! Here are some lightning facts you need to know!

What comes first, lightning or thunder?

Lightning and thunder actually occur at the same time.  Lightning actually causes thunder.  The reason you don’t hear them at the same time is because the speed of sound is slower than the speed of light.  This is why you may see a lightning bolt then hear the thunder sometime afterwards.

There are blue skies outside, can I still get struck?

Most people don’t realize that it is still possible to get struck by lightning when there are blue skies over you.  It is possible to still get struck when the storm center is 10 miles away from you.

What are the odds of getting struck?

The chance of being struck by lightning in any one year is 1 and 700,000.  But in your whole entire lifetime the chance is 1 and 3,000.  So let’s think about this, the population of Connecticut is 3.59 million.  So according to the statistics, 5 people get struck by lighting in CT a year.

Can the same location be struck by lightning twice?

Yes, for example the Empire State building gets struck on average 23 times a year!

Can lightning kill?

About 10% of all lighting strike victims are killed, 70% suffer serious long-term effects.  400 people survive lightning strikes each year.

Is lighting only possible in thunderstorms?

Actually, lighting can be seen in volcanic eruptions, intense forest fires, heavy snowstorms, nuclear detonations and in large hurricanes.

I just heard thunder, how can I tell how far away the lightning is?

A great estimation is for every 5 seconds you count between seeing the lighting and hearing the thunder is equal to 1 mile.  So if you see a flash of lightning and count 15 seconds before hearing the thunder, a good estimations is that the lightning is 3 miles away.

How hot is lighting?

Lighting can reach 50,000 degrees, reach 5 miles in length and contain over a hundred million electrical volts.  Let’s put this into perspective.  Water boils at 212 F, we cook at 450 F and the air temperature around here reaches up to 105 F. Wow lightning is HOT!

Does lighting always touch the ground?

No lighting doesn’t always reach the ground, cloud to cloud lightning is very common.

How to stay safe while there is lightning.

Get inside a safe building or a car.  This way you are away from the elements.  If that isn’t possible, try and get as low as possible to the ground and make sure you are away from anything tall or conductive such as trees, water or metal.  Lighting will usually strike the tallest object.

Thanks for reading!

-Meteorologist Kevin Arnone

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