1.4 Lightning and Lightning Safety

Wednesday, 10 June 2015: 2:15 PM
304 (Raleigh Convention Center)
John S. Jensenius Jr., NOAA/NWS, Gray, ME

June 19-24 marks the 15th annual Lightning Safety Awareness Week across the United States. In the 15 years since the effort began, the U.S. has seen a marked decrease in lightning fatalities. In 2001, when the campaign began, the U.S. had 55 deaths per year based on the 10-year average from 1991-2000. Since 2001, lightning fatalities have averaged about 35 deaths per year. Based on these statistics, almost 300 lives have been saved since the lightning safety effort began. Much of the success of this campaign can be attributed to the educational and awareness efforts of broadcasters and the National Weather Service.

As successful as the lightning safety efforts have been, between 25 and 30 people are currently killed each year in the United States with hundreds more injured. Most of these deaths and injuries could be eliminated if people took the appropriate precautions in a timely manner. The broadcast media play a critical role in not only warning people of thunderstorms, but also helping people understand the dangers of lightning so that they get to safety before the lightning threat becomes significant.

In this talk, I will talk about the science of lightning, discuss lightning safety issues, answer some of the most frequently asked questions, and provide the latest information on lightning fatalities in the United States. In addition, I will show some of the animations available to help explain lightning and provide information on the various resources available to broadcasters and the public on lightning and lightning safety.

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