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Severe Weather Preparedness: Staying safe when lightning strikes

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 18:10:25-04

While not every storm is severe, all thunderstorms are dangerous with the lightning they produce. About 25 million cloud-to-ground strikes hit the US each year. It’s a serious threat-considering lightning can reach temperatures of 50,000 degrees! That’s hotter than the surface of the sun.

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True or False? If you can hear thunder – you’re close enough to be hit by lightning. True! Strikes can happen 10 to 15 miles away from a thunderstorm…even when the skies are blue! Remember, when thunder roars, head indoors!

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If you are outdoors when a storm approaches, seek shelter in a fully enclosed building or hard-topped vehicle with the windows closed. You’ll want to stay inside for 30 minutes after hearing the last rumble of thunder making sure the threat has passed.

The National Weather Service says 63 percent of lightning deaths occur while people are taking part in leisure activities like fishing or hiking. If you're caught outside and can't get to shelter when lighting threatens, stay away from trees or open areas where you're the tallest object until the storm passes.