Lightning: Mother Nature’s Light Show

Lightning

Lightning

Fun Facts About Lightning

  • Lightning is a form of electrical discharge between clouds or between a cloud and the ground.

    Ball lightning

    Ball lightning

  • The discharge may take place between two parts of the same cloud, between two clouds, or between a cloud and the ground.
  • Lightning may appear as a jagged streak, a flash in the sky, or in the rarer form of a brilliant ball.
  • Thunder is the sound waves produced by the explosive heating of the air in the lightning channel during the return.
  • Most lightning strikes occur either at the beginning or end of a storm.
  • The average lightning strike is six miles long.Lightning is not confined to thunderstorms. It’s been seen in volcanic eruptionsextremely intense forest fires, surface nuclear detonations, heavy snowstorms, and in large hurricanes.

    Volcanic lightning

    Volcanic lightning

  • Lightning reaches 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, fours times as hot as the sun’s surface.
  • A cloud-to-ground lightning channel can be 2 to 10 miles long.
  • Voltage in a cloud-to-ground strike is 100 million to 1 billion volts.
  • Lightning is underrated as a risk because it usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property.
  • Lightning affects all regions. Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Colorado have the most lightning deaths and injuries.
  • Lightning kills more people on an annual basis than tornadoes, hurricanes or winter storms. It is second only to flash floods in the annual number of deaths caused by storm-related hazards.
  • Damage costs from lightning are estimated at $4-5 billion each year in the U.S.
  • Around the earth there are 100 lightning strikes per second, or 8,640,00 times a day.
  • What is commonly referred to as heat lightning, is actually lightning too far away to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
  • There are approximately 100,000 thunderstorms in the U.S. each year.
  • Rubber shoes do nothing to protect you from lightning.Americans are twice as likely to die from lightning than from a hurricane, tornado or flood.
  • Talking on the telephone is the leading cause of lightning injuries inside the home.
  • Standing under a tall tree is one of the most dangerous places to take shelter.
  • If your hair stands up in a storm, it could be a bad sign that positive charges are rising through you, reaching toward the negatively charged part of the storm. That’s not a good sign! Your best bet is to get yourself immediately indoors.

    Blue lightning

    Blue lightning

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates there are 200 deaths and 750 severe injuries from lightning each year in the U.S.
  • The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000.The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000.
  • 20% of all lightning victims die from the strike.
  • 70% of survivors will suffer serious long-term effects.
  • Annually, there are more than 10,000 forest fires caused by lightning.
  • 85% of lightning victims are children and young men aged 10-35 engaged in outdoor recreation and work activities outside.
  • 70% of all lightning injuries and fatalities occur in the afternoon.
  • Most lightning deaths involve people working outdoors and outdoor recreationists.
  • Lightning in remote terrain creates dangerous conditions. Hikers, campers, backpackers, skiers, fishermen, and hunters are especially vulnerable when they’re participating in these activities.
  • Many survivors of lightning strikes report that immediately before being struck their hair was standing on end and they had a metallic taste in their mouth.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of a storm—and can be struck by lightning. Seek shelter and avoid situations in which you may be vulnerable.
  • Use the 30-30 rule, when visibility is good and there is nothing obstructing your view of the thunderstorm. When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within six miles (ten kilometers) of you and is dangerous. Seek shelter immediately.
  • The Fourth of July is historically one of the most deadly times of the year for lightning in the U.S.. In summer, especially on a holiday, more people are outside, on the beach, golf course, mountains, or ball fields. Outdoor jobs such as construction and agriculture, and outdoor chores such as lawn mowing or house painting are at their peak, putting people involved in danger.
  • Long-term injuries from a lightning strike can include memory & attention loss, chronic numbness, muscle spasms & stiffness, depression, hearing loss, and sleep disturbance.
  • Some scientists think that lightning may have played a part in the evolution of living organisms. The immense heat and other energy given off during a stroke has been found to convert elements into compounds that are found in organisms.

Special thanks to  www.strikealert.com and www.nationalgeographic.com

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