It would be presumptuous of me to say, of my articles and postings on YourWeatherBlog, that I have an audience. It would be even more presumptuous if I were to say I know who you are or that I understand your professional background or your interest in meteorology. I can make the assumption however, that you’re probably not a grade school student, you’re likely not a teenager and that you’ve almost certainly been around the block a time or two. All of this makes writing an article about lightning awareness and safety difficult—difficult because you’ve heard it all before. Especially so because, as we head into the fourth week of June, the severe weather season is behind us (twin tornadoes in Nebraska not withstanding); we’ve all heard about severe weather safety and awareness since February. We should have the innocuous dog days of summer to look forward to, not more severe weather outbreaks. And just who’s idea was it to put Lightning Awareness week at the end of severe weather season?
That said, this week is Lightning Awareness Week. So let this post serve not as a way to teach or educate you about the meteorology of lightning, but as a reminder that lightning is all around us. It can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone. And to any business. Awareness is key, precaution is prudent and safety is paramount. Let this post serve as a way to bring lightning awareness to the top of your Inbox, to your business continuity meetings at work to to the conversations at your dinner table. Workers in the field need to have the same awareness as kids at the pool, golfers on the links and cyclists on the open road, dads at the office and so on.
Each year lightning kills 51 people, on average. So far, for 2014, there have been six reported lightning deaths. Last year there were 23 fatalities in 14 states and 28 deaths reported the year before (link). Lightning is also the largest source of external power surges which can damage electrical components and lead to fires and expensive repairs, not to mention the potentially huge disruptions to business and family.
NOAA and the National Weather Service have created a comprehensive web site (link) to bring the topic of lightning safety and awareness to each of us. All we have to do is not walk casually into the dog days of summer and turn our backs to the danger that is all around us and one that can seemingly strike out of the pure blue sky. (That reminds me—the NOAA Lightning Safety site has a page devoted to nine of the most popular myths concerning lightning. Check it out here.)