89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Monday, 12 January 2009
Research Required to Improve Lightning Safety
Hall 5 (Phoenix Convention Center)
William P. Roeder, Private Meteorologist, Rockledge, FL
Poster PDF (121.4 kB)
Lightning is the second leading cause of storm related deaths in the United States, only floods kill more. Lightning kills more than tornadoes or hurricanes. Lightning also inflicts life-long debilitating injury on many more than it kills. Fortunately, most lightning casualties can be easily, quickly, and cheaply prevented. Public education is the key. However, that public education needs to be based on solid scientific evidence and there is still much research that can be done to improve lightning safety guidance. This paper will list that required research. Some of the required research includes:

1) frequency of cloud-to-ground lightning outside of rain for different types of thunderstorms,

2) distribution of lightning versus distance across and along anvil clouds,

3) frequency and distance distribution of “bolts from the blue” and conditions under which they occur,

4) distance thunder can be heard versus terrain type, wind, buildings, and background noise, etc.,

5) continued analysis of lightning casualty demographics and societal shifts in those demographics,

6) utility of hearing thunder as a cue to seek safety,

7) utility of lightning aloft in lightning safety under different weather conditions, especially post squall line stratiform rain,

8) frequency and lead-time distribution provided by lightning aloft and cloud-to-ground lightning when lightning casualties occurred,

9) objectively rating the lightning safety provided by houses with and without lightning protection and different types of vehicles

10) objective and independent evaluation of the performance of hand-held lightning detectors,

11) objective and independent performance evaluation of lightning prediction systems

12) distance from the lightning strike point that ground streamers can cause death and injury

13) lightning safety recommendations for developing countries

14) update the ratio of lightning injury and intensity of injury vs. lightning death

15) improve the percentages of lightning casualties vs. the five lightning casualty mechanisms

16) update the estimate of under reporting of lightning deaths

17) continue studies of the utility of proper vehicles in lightning safety,

18) develop semi-portable lightning protection devices for camp sites and, if possible, very lightweight portable lightning protection that can be carried by hikers,

19) analyze the completeness of lightning casualties in NOAA Storm Reports,

20) estimate the utility of short notice outdoor lightning risk reduction under conditions other than a large flat empty field, such as an exposed mountain top, a forest, a small stand of trees, a single tree, and others,

21) professional communicators such as trainers, educators, and marketers could help refine the various lightning safety slogans, especially the most recent slogan ‘Half An Hour Since Thunder Roars, Now Okay To Go Outdoors!'.

More lightning research topics may be added to the paper to be presented at the conference.

Supplementary URL: