Thursday's Severe Weather Awareness Topic: Lightning

Governor Sebelius has designated this week as "Severe Weather Awareness Week" in Kansas. The National Weather Service in coordination with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Kansas Emergency Management Association, Kansas Highway Patrol, and other local and state volunteer organizations, is promoting severe weather education and preparedness.

All thunderstorms produce lightning, but the National Weather Service does not issue warnings for lightning. The spring and summer months are the peak times for one of the weather's deadliest weather phenomena... lightning. In the U.S. an average of 66 people are killed each year by lightning. Lightning injuries are often under reported as many people do not seek medical help or doctors do not record it as a lightning injury.

There are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year in the U.S. Lightning may strike up to 10 miles away from the rainfall portion of a thunderstorm, so even though it may not be raining at your location, you may still be at risk of being struck by lightning.

Here are some lightning safety tips to follow:
Postpone or suspend outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. Use the 30/30 rule for safety... if you see lightning and then hear thunder within 30 seconds... move inside. Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. If you are participating in a sporting event or other outdoor recreation, consider how long it will take to reach a sturdy shelter. Do not seek shelter underneath trees or powerlines. If you are outside and there is no shelter nearby, crouch down on the balls of your feet and make yourself a small target. If your skin or hair tingles, you are in danger of being struck by lightning. Do not lie down.

If you are boating or swimming, get on land and find shelter immediately.

If you are inside, stay away from windows. Do not talk on corded telephones or other household appliances that put you in contact with electrical or plumbing lines. Do not bate or shower during a thunderstorm.

People who survive lightning strikes often experience a wide range of symptoms. Intense headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or other post-concussion types of symptoms. They may also experience sleeplessness, short term memory problems, irritability, and hearing problems.

What are the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year?
1 in 700,000

Odds of being struck in your lifetime?
1 in 5,000

Remember to head indoors when thunder roars!

Please contact Jennifer Stark at 785-232-1493 or at jennifer.stark@noaa.gov for more information.


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