Lightning safety as storms threaten start of school
As most of the students head back to school in Hamilton County tomorrow, and there is a chance for rain and thunderstorms, it seems timely to talk about lightning safety. Just yesterday, Monday evening, lightning struck a home in Grayson, Georgia.
We've also had viewers inquire about safety during a storm, such as, if it's safe to use the bathroom.
The short answer, water is a conductor of electricity, and using the bathroom should be avoided. Water is not only a conductor, but it's a good conductor. So, thunderstorms that are producing heavy rainfall, have a better chance at producing cloud to ground lightning. A home has metal plumbing too. Should lightning strike the house, this poses the threat of an electrical shock.
Here's how it works:
The base of a thunderstorm has negatively charged particles. The ground is positively charged. So, anything that's above ground, has positively charged ions. In fact, storms produce what's called stepped leaders. Where, the lightning actually strikes from the ground, up!
What we see, is called the returned stroke, and this can occur within 10 miles of a thunderstorm. The good news is the National Weather Service has reported a decrease in US fatality deaths related to lightning strikes since 2007. From 45 in 2007 (41 male, to 4 female), to 16 in 2017 (15 male, 1 female). In 2017, there were 3 deaths in the state of Alabama, 0 in Tennessee, and 0 in Georgia. After looking at the activity, the only correlation was the gender. Activity ranged from boating to golfing, to construction work, to just stepping outside.
You've heard the saying, 'When thunder roars, go indoors.'
Have a weather-related story idea? Feel free to email Meteorologist Brittany Beggs.