KUSA- Tornadoes get most of the attention in weather coverage, but year in and year out lightning is much more dangerous here in Colorado.
Lightning is a powerful discharge of electricity with about 300 million Volts of electrical potential. The energy from one lightning strike could power a 23 Watt fluorescent light bulb for a year! The air column withing a lightning strike is heated to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun.
This combination of heat and power make cloud to ground lightning extremely dangerous for any one outside during a thunderstorm.
According to the National Weather Service, 91 people have were killed by lightning from 1980 to 2011, with an additional 411 people injured through that same time. That's an average of 3 per year.
By contrast, there are 4 reported tornado deaths in Colorado since 1960.
We had some Facebook friends ask questions about lightning today on the 9NEWS Facebook page:
Eli Hernandez: Is there any type of lightning that originates from the ground and not the clouds?
All bolts that hit the ground come from the cloud AND the ground to connect about 150 feet above ground.
Lyndsy Lindblom: How far away can a storm be for there to be no risk of being hit by lightening?
At least 10 to 15 miles.
Sio Glotfelty: I've been told that once you've been hit by lightning, your chances of being hit again are much greater than those of someone who has never been hit. I've always thought that was interesting, especially if it's true.
This is not true.
Teresa Walker: My 7 year old son asked me last night what lighting is made of.
It is a flow of electrons, in other words it is electricity.
Inside a sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm, away from windows and electronic devices.
The National Weather Service recommends seeking shelter when the sound of thunder comes within 30 seconds of the lightning flash. Outdoor activities should be resume until 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard. The NWS calls this the "30-30 Rule".
For more information about lightning, click here
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