There are up to 20 million thunderstorms each year, so you should be aware ot’ the dangers and know how to protect yourself from a thunderstorm, wherever you are.
American research has recorded 25 million lightning strikes (from the cloud to ground) every year in the USA. With that figure as a guide, tin UK must have at least a quarter of a million lightning strikes each year.
Thunderstorm – countermeasures
If you can hear thunder, you are probably close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. If not you soon will be. so take shelter.
As ‘positive lightning’ can strike from the top of a thundercloud and hit a target under blue sky up to 10 miles away, seek shelter whenever a storm is in the area.
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About 10% of lightning strikes occur in an area where there appear to be no clouds in the sky -that means to one side of the storm
Check for thunderstorms and aim to be inside a building or vehicle during any storm, particularly violent tropical thunderstorms. Never stand in the open during a thunderstorm.
If you see billowing clouds with dark bases and the wind strength is increasing, you don’t need a weather forecast to tell you that a thunderstorm could be forming, so get to safety.
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If lightning is forecast, seriously consider changing your plans, or have an alternative activity planned where you can take cover quickly. Then seek a building that will have walls all around you, not something like a carport which may not protect you. A cave would do in a rural area, or get into a vehicle (not a convertible) and wait until you can no longer hear or see the storm.
A high proportion of lightning strike victims and witnesses report that there was no rain falling at the time. If you wait for the rain you are already too late.
If you cannot get to cover, aim to be the lowest point in the area. You don’t want those leaders (upward-reaching fingers of charge) attracting a strike to the top of your head. Move to lower ground if you can, and if necessary lay flat in a depression even though it is wet and muddy and cold. Remember that if your hair stands on end this indicates that a leader is running up through you and a lightning strike is not far away. Under these circumstances laying in the mud becomes quite an acceptable option! lightning strike to a nearby object can send electricity through the ground and to you nearby. We all know not to shelter under a tree in a thunderstorm. If caught in the open, as a rough guide you should estimate the height of the tree, and stay three times that distance away from the base of the tree (or other tall object) to be safe from the radiating effects of a strike on it.
Discard any metal objects, such as golf clubs, walking sticks or a metal-framed rucksack, fishing rods, tennis rackets and tools. Get off a bike or motorcycle. Don’t lean on cars or metal fences and gates. Consider removing metal jewellery.