What is a Bolt from the blue?



Quite literally, it means a lightning bolt that came from an area of blue sky. Lightning bolts can on occasion jump 10 or more miles out from their parent storm cloud and appear to strike in a region with blue skies overhead. Such was the case in 1995, when lightning struck a playing field near Miami, Florida, injuring 10 children and a coach. The skies were clear save for a line of clouds to the distant northwest.

Should you stand under trees during thunderstorms?



Most people seem to know that they shouldn't stand near trees in a thunderstorm due to the lightning hazard and the fact that trees blow down. In a recent 15-year period in Ohio alone, over 40 persons were injured and at least nine were killed by trees toppled during thunderstorms. Many of the victims were in vehicles. If you pull your car over during a downpour, be sure you are not in the potential path of a tree that could fall as the next gust of wind strikes.

In June 1993, a severe thunderstorm with several microbursts downed more than 13,000 trees in the northern part of Cincinnati and its suburbs. Over 60,000 utility customers lost power. A woman was killed when a tree crushed her car, which she had parked because the rainfall was too heavy for driving.

In June 1992, thunderstorms sweeping across Gebhard Woods State Park, Illinois, knocked down numerous trees. But one was special...the largest tree in the state, a 138-foot-tall cottonwood thought to be 200 years old.

Where should you go for protection when a thunderstorm is approaching?



A car or truck (with windows closed) or the inside of a building are the safest places. Where not to go? Avoid standing under trees, or near fences, railroad tracks, tents, hilltops, or golf carts. Also avoid holding onto telephones, electrical appliances, or plumbing. And stay out of water! Open-sided rain shelters are not particularly good protection from lightning either.

Lightning fatalities or injuries occur most often when you are:

  • Near or in water -indoor and outdoor pools, including showers or plumbing.
  • Near or under trees and tall objects - diving boards, towers, lifeguard stands, poles, etc.
  • Near vehicles or buildings, instead of in them - under awings or unenclosed buildings.
  • At recreational facilities and open areas -pools, ball fields, golf courses, and parks.
  • Near the storm, especially before the storm arrives and after the storm has passed.