Weather Ready Nation – Lightning


As fascinating as lightning is, it’s important to know that each strike has the potential to injure and even kill. Lightning is a giant spark that is the result of positive and negative charges becoming too great to be insulated by the air around us either within the atmosphere, or between the atmosphere and the ground.

“And lightning is generated more through the type of convection, showers and thunderstorms. We don’t see quite as much of that in the winter time. And generally it’s due to different layers of precipitation separation. Ice crystals versus water droplets in the cloud and thunderstorm, for example. Because those separate due to updrafts and currents within the storm you get positive and negative charges in various layers. And when that charge becomes big enough you’ll get a release of that to try and equalize the difference, you’ll get a lightning strike.” 

As we continue into the summer months, lots of us are wanting to get out and enjoy the summertime warmth. However, keep in mind that being outdoors during a thunderstorm poses extreme risks.

“The best rule of thumb, is to just not be outside when you can hear thunder. And even certainly if you see lightning approaching, even if you can’t hear it, if you can go indoors into a sturdy structure […] A lot of lightning fatalities are near a tree where the lightning strikes the tree and then you get these radial bands of current that go along the ground and can move 50 feet or more away from the tree where the lightning actually struck. So you definitely just want to be indoors is the best advice.”

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