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Lightning Facts From National Weather Service

National Weather Service

  When summer temps rise, so do the chances of thunderstorms and potentially deadly lightning. In honor of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, the National Weather Service is sharing tips as the summer storm season kicks off. 

Lightning can be dangerous, especially for people outdoors who are camping or hiking during a storm. Alzina Foscato is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City.

“It’s hotter than the surface of the sun. I can reach up to temperatures around 50 thousand degrees fahrenheit.” 

Lighting strikes can cause forest fires and sometimes even building fires. Foscato says there’s no really safe place to be outdoors during storms. 

“You want to go inside somewhere like a building and get away from windows because if you're outside, even if you’re underneath an awning or something it could still strike close by and still affect you or it can hit a person as well. So we try to tell people when thunder roars, go indoors.” 

She says it’s important to be educated about lightning and to know how to take precautions. 

“One of the things too, is a lot of people don’t know lightning can strike 10 to 15 miles from the actual storm.” 

She adds some common myths about lighting are false.

“Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, isolated object such as a tree or a flag pole or something like that. Most cars are actually safe from lighting but it is the metal roof and the sides that protect you, and it’s not the rubber tires.”  

Foscato says there are a handful of lightning deaths nationwide each year, but few have been reported in South Dakota.