Severe Weather Awareness Week: Lightning

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Today, we’re covering lightning for Severe Weather Awareness Week. Lightning is seen with every thunderstorm and it’s the second most deadly severe weather hazard behind flash flooding. It’s always important to remember when thunder roars to go indoors. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away so, even if a storm seems very far away, if you’re able to hear thunder you could potentially be struck by a lightning bolt or what’s sometimes referred to as a “bolt from the blue.” Inside of a building is the best place to be in order to avoid lightning, but a vehicle can also serve as a satisfactory alternative so long as the storm isn’t too strong to potentially damage the car. Wait at least 30 minutes after you hear the last crack of thunder to go back outside.

If you’re stuck outside on a boat or golfing, there’s a few guidelines you can follow to protect yourself. Avoid trees and poles lightning is attracted to tall objects. Get off of hills or elevated areas immediately. If you’re in a group, try to keep a little distance between yourself and others to avoid having lightning chain from one person to another. If you’re on a boat, steer to shore and seek a low-lying place or shelter if possible.

You can gauge how close a lightning strike is by counting seconds after you see a flash of lightning. Take the number of seconds and divide by 5 to determine how many miles away the lightning strike occurred (i.e. if you count 14 seconds from the flash to when you hear thunder, the storm is about 3 miles away). Again, if you are able to hear thunder no matter the distance, you should head indoors right away.

To stay informed on changing weather conditions tune in for coverage on KCAU 9 News, download the KCAU 9 Weather App, or use a NOAA Weather Radio for the latest updates.

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