Weather Ready Nation – Lightning Safety

Weather Ready Nation

Thunderstorms are a common occurrence on the South Plains in the Springtime. The clashing of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico with cold, dry air from the north is typically how we see some of these thunderstorms develop during this time of year. But were you aware that the same, general ingredients also come together in the Fall?


Jeffrey Vitale explains, “lightning forms when we get thunderstorm clouds and ice particles within the thunderstorm clouds collide with each other and we get charges that develop. Positive and negative charges. And typically we see negative charges accumulate at the base of a cloud, and the surface of the earth is usually concentrated with positive charges. And so what happens is, what’s called a stepped leader, comes out from the bottom of the cloud and that makes its way down to the surface […] When it reaches the ground, we see the return stroke or the big flash of light that we all see.”   

These big flashes of light can be visually stunning, but they can also be dangerous. Lightning has even been recorded as far away as 15 miles from the parent thunderstorm. With that in mind, here are some ways you can stay safe if ever caught outside in a thunderstorm.


“A lot of people think taking shelter under a tree is a good idea but it’s really not. Because lightning is more likely to hit the tallest object around. and usually that’s a tree. and trees don’t do so well when hit by lightning […] inside any building would be the best place to go if you were stuck outside. You want to be inside as well, as far away from outside as possible. You want to stay away from metal objects, from fences, any sort of wet items because again lightning can travel through that. I was just going to say staying away from exterior doors or windows especially the ones that may contain metal. You want to stay as far away from that as possible.”

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