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It’s Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Lightning is often overlooked, but it is very dangerous
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 12:21 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2022 at 2:42 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lightning may not be a type of severe weather, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. When we think of dangerous or deadly weather phenomena, it’s just usually not what comes to mind.

Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and winter storms jump out at us way before lightning does.

But that shouldn’t be the case.

How lightning forms in a thunderstorm.
How lightning forms in a thunderstorm.(WSFA 12 News)

Lightning is dangerous and can be deadly. That’s why this week is being recognized as Lightning Safety Awareness Week -- to bring attention to lightning as we head into the time of year when it becomes most common in the U.S.

Lightning strikes the U.S. more than 25 million times per year with a temperature upwards of 50,000°F. That’s hotter than the surface of the sun.

It doesn’t only strike where a thunderstorm is located either. Lightning can strike upwards of 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. So it could be sunny and calm where you are, but if a storm is within 10 miles of you it’s possible to be struck.

Lightning kills multiple people every year in the U.S.
Lightning kills multiple people every year in the U.S.(WSFA 12 News)

On average, lightning kills more than 20 people and injures hundreds more in the U.S. Those numbers may seem small considering how many times lightning strikes each year. But one death or injury is too many.

It only takes one lightning strike to change your life forever -- either by directly or indirectly coming into contact with you.

Activities with the most lightning-related deaths between 2006 and 2018.
Activities with the most lightning-related deaths between 2006 and 2018.(WSFA 12 News/NOAA)

Since 1990, Alabama has had 36 lightning-related deaths and 168 injuries. That puts Alabama in 9th place for lightning fatalities.

More than half of the counties in the state have experienced at least one lightning-related injury/fatality. That includes many in Central Alabama, including Autauga, Butler, Coffee, Coosa, Elmore, Lee, Marengo, Montgomery, Tallapoosa.

If a thunderstorm is threatening and you hear thunder or see lightning in the distance, it’s imperative to seek shelter immediately. The best places to seek shelter are in a sturdy structure or hard-topped vehicle until 30 minutes pass after the last rumble of thunder.

While inside you should stay away from anything that uses electricity or water. Lightning can strike a home or the ground outside of your home and travel through the pipes and still hurt you.

For even more information on everything lightning-related, check out this link.

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