New York Severe Weather Awareness Week: Lightning Safety

By Chief Meteorologist Howard Manges

New York Severe Weather Awareness Week: Lightning Safety

May 1, 2013 Updated May 1, 2013 at 10:47 AM EDT

Severe Weather Awareness Week in New York State continues.
Today's topic: Lightning safety.

Lightning is a thunderstorm's biggest killer. In 2012, lightning fatalities totaled 28 people in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Statistics show that more than 50 percent of lightning related deaths occurred after the storm has passed.

If caught outdoors during a thunderstorm, remember the "30/30 rule." Count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. If the time is less than 30 seconds, lightning is a potential threat. Seek shelter immediately.

After the last lightning flash, wait 30 minutes before leaving shelter or returning to outdoor activities. Half of all lightning deaths occur after a storm passes.

Experts recommend having a plan in place for when a storm approaches. If you are outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building. Keep out of open areas. Stay away from tall objects, such as isolated trees, and metal objects, such as towers supporting power lines. Also stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes and rails. If in an automobile, do not touch metal parts or the exterior.

For more lightning safety information click: Lightning Safety