Monday, July 9, 2012

A reminder why thunder and lightning do not require rain

During the fourth inning of Sunday night’s baseball game between the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins, a sudden bolt of lightning, followed by loud thunder struck near Rangers Ballpark.  Players and umpires immediately (and rightfully) exited the playing field.  Rangers officials said the lightning struck north of stadium and did not hit the facility. There were no reports of damage or any injuries.

Although scattered storms were in the area, no rain was occurring inside the stadium.  Was this a bolt of lightning out of the blue?  Was some higher calling paying a visit?  Actually, there was nothing out of the ordinary with this event other than the proximity of the thunder and lightning to the stadium made for a scary situation.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), lightning can strike outwards of 10 miles from a thunderstorm.  Because of this, it may seem as if lightning came from “out of the blue”.

Lightning is a phenomenon to take seriously.  It is in the top three for storm-related killers in the United States.  If you hear thunder, you are already in danger of becoming a lightning victim.  One method used to calculate the distance of a storm to your location for safety purposes is to count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the crack of thunder and divide by 5.  If the storm is within 10 miles, find a safe shelter such as a substantial building or an enclosed metal vehicle, and wait for the storm to clear.


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