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Lightning Information

"The flash of light that accompanies a high-tension natural electric discharge in the atmosphere," as described in the dictionary. Although this states what lightning is, it is not very informative. It doesn't explain to us the nature of lightning, the dangers involved, or how to protect ourselves from injury due to lightning.



Lightning Facts

  • Lightning-strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
  • Lightning causes an average of 80 fatalities and 300 injuries each year.
  • Lightning occurs in all thunderstorms; each year lightning strikes the Earth 20 million times.
  • The energy from one lightning flash could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months.
  • Most lightning fatalities and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
  • Lightning can occur from cloud-to-cloud, within a cloud, cloud-to-ground, or cloud-to-air.
  • Many fires in the western United States and Alaska are started by lightning.
  • The air near a lightning strike is heated to 50,000°F, hotter than the surface of the sun. The rapid heating and cooling of the air near the lightning channel causes a shock wave that results in thunder.
  • Lightning strikes the Empire State Building in NYC some 22-25 times per year.
  • Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide no protection from lightning. The steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.

 

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