ALL ABOUT LIGHTNING
Lightning Facts and Preventive
Skymont Scout Reservation, Cherokee
Area Council, Boy Scouts of America
Take time NOW to learn and understand
the hazards of lightning, and the basic safety rules.
Lightning occurs with all Thunderstorms, in
the storm area and out in front of the storm. It causes the thunder
we hear. If you can hear thunder before the storm, you are close
enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.
- Causes an average of 93 fatalities in the
USA each year, and over 300 serious injuries.
- Causes several hundred million dollars
in damage to property and forests each year.
- Results from the buildup and discharge
of electrical energy between negatively charged areas (bottom
of cloud) and positively charged areas (items on earth). It is
static electricity on a huge scale.
- Your chances of being struck by lightning
are estimated to be 1 in 600,000 each year, but that can be greatly
reduced by knowing and following lightning safety rules.
- A lightning flash is estimated to carry
30,000 to 300,000 Amps. at 15 million to 125 million Volts, for
less than 1 second. This is why such awesome and often bizarre
stories are told of the results.
- The air near a flash is heated to 50,000F
- 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun. The rapid heating
and cooling of this air causes the shock wave we hear as thunder.
- Most lightning casualties occur in the
summer months, during afternoon or early evening, when people
are caught outdoors.
- A strike begins as channels of negatively
charged air (invisible "leaders") move downward
from the cloud toward the ground. When one channel nears an object
on the ground, a powerful surge of positively charged particles
(skin and hair tingle) moves upward toward the cloud, connects,
and produces the flash. Three or four strikes may occur within
one-tenth of a second, makes the flash appear to flicker.
- To estimate the distance in miles between
you and the lightning, count the seconds between the flash and
the sound of the thunder, and divide by five.
- In recent years, people have been killed
by lightning while boating, fishing in a boat, swimming, golfing,
bike riding, standing under a tree, riding on a lawnmower, talking
on the telephone, loading a truck, playing soccer, and mountain
This web page was written by Jack Wright,
Skymont Scout Reservation, Chattanooga, Tennessee
with web authoring assistance by Michael F. Bowman,