LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK

by Gair on June 26, 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS DESIGNATED THE WEEK OF JUNE 24, 2013 AS “NATIONAL LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK” AND THE CAMPAIGN COINCIDES WITH TWO RECENT LIGHTNING STRIKES – ONE ON SEBAGO LAKE IN CASCO, MAINE THAT SENT A 25-YEAR-OLD NASHUA NEW HAMPSHIRE WOMAN TO THE HOSPITAL – AND ANOTHER AT A BOY SCOUT CAMP SOUTH OF LACONIA, NEW HAMPSHIRE THAT INJURED NEARLY TWO DOZEN SCOUTS.

METEOROLOGIST REBECCA SCHOLAND – A WEATHER OBSERVER AND EDUCATION SPECIALIST AT THE MOUNT WASHINGTON OBSERVATORY IN NORTH CONWAY, HAS OBSERVED MANY STRIKES DURING HER CAREER.

SHE SAYS MORE THAN 400 PEOPLE IN THE U.S. ARE HIT BY LIGHTNING EVERY YEAR – NEARLY 40 OF THEM DIE AFTER BEING HIT AND HUNDREDS OF OTHERS SUFFER NEUROLOGICAL INJURIES. SHE SAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO WHEN YOU HEAR THUNDER IS TO GO INSIDE, BECAUSE IT MEANS YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE HIT BY LIGHTNING.

SHE RECOMMENDS YOU PREPARE BEFORE YOU GO OUT – DOING THINGS LIKE LISTENING TO THE WEATHER FORECAST AND HAVE A BACKUP PLAN IF YOU SEE STORMS ROLLING IN.

SCHOLAND CITES NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE STATISTICS THAT MORE THAN 80 PERCENT OF LIGHTNING STRIKE FATALITIES ARE MALE, TYPICALLY BETWEEN THE AGES OF 15 AND 40 – AND THE AIR THROUGH WHICH LIGHTNING PASSES CAN HEAT UP TO 50,000 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT, HOTTER THAN THE SURFACE OF THE SUN. SHE SAYS IT’S THE RAPID HEATING AND COOLING OF THE AIR THAT CAUSES THE SOUND OF THUNDER.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS IT’S DANGEROUS TO DO ANY OUTDOOR ACTIVITY DURING A THUNDERSTORM. THE WEATHER SERVICE SAYS THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE KILLED BY LIGHTNING EACH YEAR IN THE U.S. HAS BEEN REDUCED BY HALF SINCE IT STARTED ITS PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN IN 2001.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LIGHTNING AND SAFETY TIPS, SEE THE OBSERVATORY’S WEBSITE AT www.mountwashington.org.

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