Recent Strikes Underscore Dangers of Lightning

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The death of a 9-year-old boy from a lightning strike in Duluth this weekend underscores the dangers of lightning.

It may come as a surprise to many, but lightning is a bigger killer than hurricanes.

“If we look at an average over the last 30 years we’ve actually had more lightning deaths — on average — than we have due to hurricanes. So it’s definitely a huge threat across the nation,” said Lisa Schmidt, of the Chanhassen office of the National Weather Service.

Schmidt says the 30-year average for lightning fatalities is 54 per year, compared with 47 for hurricanes.

That doesn’t include injuries or damage.

In just the past week in our region, a 23-year-old man was seriously injured by lightning while riding an ATV in Brainerd and two families were displaced by a fire at their duplex in Hudson, Wisconsin — a fire triggered by lightning.

Experts say the most important thing to do in lightning storms is to seek shelter in a building — not under a tree.

And Schmidt recommends taking action as soon as you hear thunder.

“When thunder roars, go indoors,” Schmidt said.

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