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North Carolina Severe Weather Awareness Week
Mar 4th - Mar 10th, 2012

Sunday    Monday    Tuesday    Wednesday    Thursday    Friday   

This week has been declared North Carolina's Severe Weather
Awareness Week for 2012. All week long the national weather service
will be issuing informative messages to help you prepare for severe

Today's topic is lightning.

Lightning occurs with all thunderstorms and is one of the greatest
dangers we face in North Carolina. Over the course of one year, the
earth will be struck by lightning nearly 20 million times. In a
typical year there are around 500,000 lightning strikes in North
Carolina resulting in 9 to 12 strikes per square mile. On average
55 people are killed by lightning strikes each year.In 2011 there
was one known fatality in the state. In the past decade North
Carolina ranked 5th in the nation for lightning fatalities. Nearly
all lightning deaths are the result of cardiac arrest, so knowing
how to respond quickly using C.P.R. can save a life. To avoid
becoming a lightning statistic just remember, when thunder roars go

Lightning results from the buildup and discharge of electrical
energy between positively and negatively charged ice particles
within a thunderstorm. Electrical charges build up as ice particles
collide in the updrafts and downdrafts of the storm. Once the charge
is strong enough to travel from the cloud to the ground, a lightning
flash is created. The air around the lightning strike is instantly
heated to 50,000 degrees celsius. This is hotter than the surface of
the sun. the rapid heating of air causes a shock wave to travel
through the atmosphere, resulting in thunder. The acoustic
shockwave near the lightning strike is strong enough to rupture the
eardrums of those standing nearby.

You can count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning
and the clap of thunder to determine how far away the lightning
occurred. Once you see the lightning, start counting seconds. For
every 5 seconds that go by before you hear the thunder, that's one
mile. This technique only tells you how far away that one lightning
strike was from your location. The next one could be a lot closer.
Lightning can travel as far as 10 to 12 miles from a thunderstorm.
For that reason, anytime you hear thunder or see lightning, seek
shelter indoors.

Most lightning fatalities occur when people are caught outside
during the spring and summer months. Because of the abundance of
outdoor activities in North Carolina, we are especially vulnerable
to lightning. If outside, move indoors if possible. Stay off of the
telephone and stay away from windows. If caught outdoors, stay away
from trees, telephone poles, and other tall objects. When boating
try to seek safe harbor before the storm approaches.

Remember, lightning can travel up to 12 miles from a thunderstorm.
Basically, if you can hear the thunder, you can be struck by
lightning. Go indoors if you see lightning or hear thunder. Stay
indoors for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of
thunder. This should help ensure your safety.

More information about lightning can be found at...

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National Weather Service
Newport/Morehead City, NC Weather Forecast Office
533 Roberts Rd, Newport, NC 28570
(252) 223-5737
Page last modified: March 1, 2012
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