(WVNS) – Welcome to West Virginia’s Severe Weather Awareness Week! Your only local Weather Ready Nation Ambassador weather team, StormTracker 59, is participating in a week-long Severe Weather Awareness event hosted by the National Weather Service – Charleston. This is a series encompassing the entire work week dedicated to helping you be prepared for severe weather – something we see every year here in our region! Whether it’s damaging wind gusts, flooding, tornadoes, hail or something else, this week is dedicated to helping prepare you and your family for Mother Nature’s worse!

For Friday, March 24th, our topic takes a look at lightning safety:

Lightning stats (CDC)

  • Lightning strikes somewhere in the United States 40 million times a year – once a second, every second, every year!
  • Chances of being struck by lightning: 1: 1,000,000.
  • Chances of survival: 90% – 10% of people who are struck by lightning die!
  • Deaths per year: 28 lightning deaths per year on average.

Total lightning deaths of nearby states (1959-2017, NOAA)

  • Ohio: 148
  • Pennsylvania: 134
  • Maryland: 126
  • Kentucky: 97
  • Indiana: 90
  • Virginia: 67
  • West Virginia: 26

How does lightning form?

  • Warm air rises, producing storm clouds.
  • Ice particles and water droplets collide in cloud.
  • Collisions cause positive and negative charges in cloud.
  • Cloud top = positive charge | Cloud bottom = negative charge | Ground = positive charge.
  • Energy from the negative charge meets leader from positive charge = flash.
  • Positive strikes can occur from storm anvil – usually the deadliest strikes.

A silly saying can save your life!

  • “See a flash, dash inside.”
  • “When thunder roars, go indoors.”
  • “Don’t be a fool, get out of the pool.”
  • “If you hear it, clear it.”
  • “Don’t get fried, go inside.”

Lightning deaths by location/activity (NWS)

  • Water activities (Swimming, boating): 35%
  • Group sports (Baseball, soccer, recess, etc.): 14%
  • Camping/hiking: 12%
  • Home (Playing/gardening, leisure, etc.): 5%

Lightning deaths by age group (NWS)

  • 20–29-year-olds: 21%
  • 40-49-year-olds: 16%
  • 30-39-year-olds: 15%
  • 10-19-year-olds: 14%
  • Note: Men are four times more likely than females to die by lightning.

Lightning Trivia

Lightning safety tips to remember

  • You cannot outrun lightning, it travels at 270,000 miles per hour.
  • The only safe place(s) from lightning is in your home, car and building.
  • 30/30 rule: If this time is less than 30 seconds from flash to thunder or 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder, lightning is a threat. Seek shelter!
  • Beware of “Bolt from the blue” – lightning from the top of the anvil that is likely several miles away from actual storm – known as ‘blue’ lightning.