WEST MICHIGAN (June 22, 2014) — Lightning Safety Awareness Week is this week. It sounds simple enough, but the idea from the National Weather Service is to keep people safe. Their motto is “when lightning roars go indoors.” That’s always the safest place to be!
An average of 51 people are killed from lightning strikes each year, and many of those could be prevented if people knew more about the dangers of lightning and just used some common sense. Lightning is said to be five to ten times hotter than the surface of the sun.
One of the worst places to seek shelter from lightning is under a tree. Why? When lightning strikes a tree, the heat vaporizes any water in its path possibly causing the tree to explode or a strip of bark to be blown off. I’ve seen this happen before as a Meteorologist. In fact, in 2013 lightning stuck a tree in Cedar Springs ans literally blew it apart! It sent bark, shards of wood, and limbs flying several hundred feet. Some of them were like projectiles shooting through the air. Thankfully, there were no injuries.
There are many other reasons NOT to be under a tree seeking shelter from lightning. Some of them include a side flash, ground current, and conduction just to name a few. Get more on all of the ways here.
The attached photo is courtesy of Sam Barricklow.