Severe Weather Preparedness Week – Lightning

If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.

Lightning is a very powerful electrical discharge that can strike from cloud to cloud, cloud to air, and from cloud to ground. Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun reaching 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface of the sun is around 11,000 degrees.

There have been 0 direct deaths from lightning this year, but it is important to note most lightning deaths occur in the summer months. Activities with the most deaths include: fishing, hanging out at the beach, boating, golfing, and even just walking. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 80% of lightning fatalities are men.

Lightning Victims 1607452820060

In 2020, there were 17 direct lightning fatalities which is the second-lowest number of deaths per year in the past 10 years. Based on data collected from 2009-2018, there is a 1 and 15,300 chance you could be struck by lightning in your lifetime. In order to avoid being a part of this statistic, do not wait until the last minute to get into your safe place. Do note, there is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area.


If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors – and don’t forget to protect your pets: Dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or on metal runners are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes.

The National Weather Service has tips on how to stay safe:

  • NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!
  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to a safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Stay in a safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

If outside…

  •  Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)