First Alert Weather In-Depth: Lightning – Bursts of pure electricity

Weather In-Depth

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – We know that Rochester is getting deeper and deeper into the thunderstorm season. And from a personal standpoint, I have to admit this kind of weather event scares me more than anything else. I think it is the speed and intensity of lightning that frightens me the most.

You probably know the basics of lightning development. It starts with a cumulonimbus cloud that has an increasing updraft and downdraft. This creates a separation or a polarization of positive and negative charges. The air is a pretty good insulator which reduces the chance of an electrical connection, but when that insulation breaks down, lightning will happen very rapidly. Lightning is a powerful force of nature and should never be taken lightly. The temperature of the average lightning strike can be as much as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unfortunately, too many folks lose their lives in a split second. History shows us the number of people killed in the United States through the years, but more importantly, we learn where it happened. This can be very revealing as it gives us a valuable lesson in safety. Most people are killed standing under a tree or tall object. That is followed by boating on the open water or being on a beach. In addition, an open field or a golf course during a thunderstorm can be dangerous. Even just being in your backyard or working on the roof should be a concern.

There are some simple safety tips to remember when lightning is moving towards your location. First, any open space outdoors is a high risk and any location outside is not 100 percent safe. The first sign of trouble it is time to immediately get out of the pool or lake.  If there is no shelter in your area you should go directly to your car, if available. Stay in tune with the weather forecast at News 10NBC First Alert weather. Remember the old adage, “When it roars, go indoors.”  If you wait for the lightning strike, sometimes that can be too late.