Straight-line thunderstorm winds can exceed 120 mph, which is stronger and more destructive than most tornadoes.
On average, nearly 50 people die per year in the United States due to lightning (down from an average of nearly 330 people per year in the 1940's), and nearly four times as many men are killed as women.
Lightning causes $1 billion in damage each year.
Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun, and can reason temperatures, around 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit!
Hail can exceed softball size (5" diameter) and does even more damage when driven by the wind.
NWS Guidebook on Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Lightning
Lightning Safety Tips
- NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!
- If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
- When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
- Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety
- Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
- Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
- Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
- Never lie flat on the ground
- Never shelter under an isolated tree
- Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
- Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
Myths and Facts About Lightning
Myth: If it is not raining, there is no danger from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes away from rainfall. It may occur as far as ten miles away from any rainfall.
Myth: Rubber soles on shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being injured by lightning.
Fact: Rubber provides no protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides some protection if you are not touching metal.
Myth: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
Fact: Lightning victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
Myth: Heat lightning occurs on very hot summer days and poses no threat.
Fact: What is referred to as heat lightning is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
For more information about lightning safety, please visit the National Weather Service Lightning Safety webpage.