Lightning noaa


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Lightning noaa

  1. 1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA Knows... Lightning L ightning is one of the most underrated severe they carry. The soft weather hazards, yet ranks as one of the top hail causes a negative weather killers in the United States. Lightning charge build up near strikes in America kill about 58 people and injure the middle and lower hundreds of others each year. part of the storm cloud which, in turn, Unlike other weather hazards that often involve causes a positive sophisticated watches and warnings from NOAA’s charge to build up on National Weather Service, lightning can occur anywhere the ground beneath there is a thunderstorm. That’s why the National Weather the storm cloud. Service conducts an on-going campaign to educate people about lightning risks. Eventually, when the charge difference between the negative charge in the cloud and the positive charge on The Shocking Truth the ground become large, the negative charge starts Lightning is a rapid discharge of electrical energy in moving toward the ground. As it moves, it creates a the atmosphere. The resulting clap of thunder is the result conductive path toward the ground. of a shock wave created by the rapid heating and cooling This path follows a zigzag shape as the negative of the air in the lightning channel. charge jumps through segments in the air. When the During a thunderstorm, negative charge from the winds within the thunder- cloud makes a connection storm cloud cause collision Lightning Quick Facts with the positive charge on between the various the ground, current surges 4 Lightning often strikes the same place precipitation particles within through the jagged path, the storm cloud. These repeatedly if it is a tall, isolated object. creating a visible flash of collisions cause very small 4 Most lightning victims are in open areas lightning. ice crystals to lose electrons or near a tree. Thunder, high winds, while larger particles of soft darkening skies, rainfall hail gain electrons. 4 In Florida, lightning kills more people and brilliant flashes of light Upward winds within than all other storm-related are warning signs for the cloud redistribute these weather events. lightning strikes. particles and the charges 4 Lightning can heat its path through the air to five times hotter than the surface of (continued on back) the sun.
  2. 2. While most lightning casualties occur at the Thunder becoming louder or beginning of an approaching storm, a significant number more frequent is a sign that of lightning deaths occur after the thunderstorm has lightning activity is approaching, passed. If thunder is heard, then the storm is close enough increasing the risk for lightning for a lightning strike. It is very important to seek safe injury or death. shelter immediately. Organizers of outdoor events When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors should monitor the weather and evacuate participants as soon as The safest place to be when lighting threatens is they hear thunder. School buses are in a substantial structure with electricity and plumbing. excellent lightning shelters. However, when inside during a thunderstorm, avoid Consider placing lightning contact with anything that could conduct a lightning safety tips and/or the action plan in game programs, strike to you, including anything that plugs into a wall flyers, scorecards, etc., and placing lightning safety cards outlet, corded phones, plumbing, metal doors, and around the area. window frames. Most importantly, keep an eye on the sky, listen for This means do not take a shower or bath during a thunder, and stay informed by listening to NOAA thunder storm. Battery-operated computers and cell Weather Radio–All Hazards. phones are fine. Generally, enclosed metal vehicles (not convertibles), with the windows rolled up, provide good For more lightning information and safety tips, visit shelter from lightning. If a storm is To learn more about NOAA, visit approaching, get inside immediately. Gazebos, rain or picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, convertible vehicles, and golf carts do not provide protection Cattle killed by a single lightning strike. from lightning. When lightning can be seen or heard, the danger is already present. December 2009