March 29, 2014
According to Time magazine’s online newsfeed, the US Geological Survey has published a new map of the United States. Broken down by county, and based on data from 1995 to 2009, this map shows the relative rate of lightning strikes across the nation. As the headline suggests, “You Have the Highest Chance of Getting Struck” in the darker red areas, which appear concentrated in—but not exclusive to—the Northeast and Southwest US. Estimated averages range from 50 to 200 fatalities each year from lightning strikes, but even a non-fatal lightning strike can be traumatic and cause injuries.
I know at this time of year, most of us are more worried about rain choking our gutters. While it’s true that summer poses a greater threat of lightning striking, any time is a good time to inform and prepare ourselves. (And if you think lightning won’t strike at the end of winter, check out this unbelievable video from Lexington, KY, that shows 11 strikes in one minute!)
We’ve written about lightning before, once to publicize Lightning Awareness Week last June and a more thorough article later that summer, with loads of links and resources. Those are great places to start—especially if you live in one of the areas highlighted in the USGS’s new map!
Want a bit more reading? WikiHow has a great little eight step list with pictures, titled (appropriately) “How To Avoid Getting Hit By Lightning”. And ScienceDaily.com takes a medical view of the phenomenon, offering an ER doctor’s perspective on what happens when someone is struck by lightning and what you can do to help.
Don’t let the stormy season creep up on you. No matter how chilly or beautiful it is in your area right now, be prepared for any weather disaster!