Learning lightning lessons could save lives

By Kelly McCarthy

June 24, 2013 Updated Jun 24, 2013 at 10:09 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Storms packing thunder and lightning peak during the summer months. It's why this week is the National Weather Service Lightning Safety Week.

Lightning is the nation's second leading cause of storm-related deaths; the first is flooding.

State Farm Insurance spends millions of dollars a year covering insurance claims caused by lightning strikes.

"Last year we had one that struck the roof," said State Farm agent Frances Traficante."It put a hole into the roof and caused fire to the home. It was tremendous damage."

But the most common damage caused by lightning is electronic. Homes have more devices plugged in now than ever before.

"Once when lightning struck, and I thought I had surge protectors and everything was fine," Traficante said. "And it arched into so many different of my electronic components, it fried so many components. Sometimes it can be repaired, but a lot of times you'll see it is fried up."

If you're outside and you start to see dark clouds forming and hear thunder, that's when you need to go indoors. The National Weather Service says a single thunderstorm can generate thousands of lightning strikes.

"People just sometimes don't take lightning as seriously as they do like a hurricane," said Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dave Nicosia. "And lightning kills more people than hurricanes do."

Lightning caused 28 deaths in the United State last year. One of those deaths happening close to the Twin Tiers.

"We had a fatality in Pennsylvania last year at the Pocono Race way," Nicosia said. "Where they were standing under a canopy tent out of the rain, but they got struck. So people think if they're not getting wet their safe but it's not true, you have to be indoors."

The National Weather Service can't say it enough: When thunder roars, go indoors.

The National Weather Service will highlight a topic a day highlighting the safety and science behind a lightning strike. For more information click here.