Thunderstorms are a common occurrence during the summer months, in part due to Florida's warm temperatures and oceans (that provide the moisture for thunderstorms to occur). Did you know that Florida experiences thunderstorms 75 to 105 days per year? With these thunderstorms there is always a chance for lightning to strike. In fact, most lightning occurs during the summer months - which is also the peak of hurricane season. To protect yourself, always monitor the weather and take precautions to minimize the potential of being affected by lightning.
- A darkening cloud is often a sign that lightning may strike.
- If you can hear thunder you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
- Increasing winds and rapidly growing cumulonimbus clouds are also early signs a thunderstorm/ lightning is approaching.
- If outside, seek refuge in a nearby building and move to the interior of the building away from doors and windows. If you cannot get inside, never lie flat on the ground, and stay away from any sources of water.
- Avoid seeking shelter under trees, as they may become damaged and fall if struck by lightning
- When it roars, go indoors. Seek shelter immediately, whether a building, a house, or a car. You are safer inside than outside.
- Be sure to get rid of any dead or rotting trees/branches that could fall and cause injury.
- If indoors when lightning occurs, stay away from water or wet items and metal objects.
- Lightning's unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.
- Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
- "Heat lightning" is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away from thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
- Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
- Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately. Most people struck by lightning are not killed but are injured significantly.
- Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000 but could be reduced even further by following safety precautions.
Watches vs. Warnings
The National Weather Service may issue severe weather watches or warnings. A watch means that conditions are favorable for development, and you should be aware and monitor weather information. A warning means that activity has been sighted or detected by radar and you should take protective actions.
Information on current weather can be found at http://www.weather.gov/