Meteorological case studies of lightning strike victims in Colorado
Stephen Hodanish, NOAA/NWS, Pueblo, CO
In an average year, 67 people are killed by lightning in the United States. In Colorado, 3 people are killed with over a dozen injured. In order to better understand where lightning strike victims were relative to the rain area of the thunderstorm, meteorological analysis of each lightning strike event has been completed. To date, 8 case studies have been completed. More cases will (likely) be analyzed during the 2005 convective season, and these data will be added to the case studies previously examined. In addition to analyzing the meteorology associated with each event, the author has had the opportunity at times to correspond with the victim(s) and/or talked to witnesses of the event, and documented the location where they were struck.
The National Weather Services' Warning Event Simulator (WES) played a key roll in this study. The WES permitted the author to analyze satellite, radar and lightning data of each lightning strike event. Prior to the WES, it was unknown where people were located relative to the convective activity which produced the lightning flash which caused the casualty. With the capability to examine radar, satellite and lightning data, we now have the capability to observe exactly where these victims were located relative to the storm.
This paper will present findings from this study. It will discuss some of the difficulties associated with lightning forensic studies such as this one. It is hoped the findings from this study will help the lightning safety community to better prepare people of the lightning threat.
Extended Abstract (1.6M)
Joint Session 1, Advances in Understanding of Lightning and Potential Economic and Societal Benefits (Joint with Second Conference on Meteorological Applications of Lightning Data and Forum on Environmental Risks and Impacts on Society: Successes and Challenges)
Monday, 30 January 2006, 1:30 PM-2:30 PM, A311
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