Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lightning Strikes: Heed The Warnings

Parmedics help one of the people who
was struck by lightning last weekend
in Venice Beach, CA. This man was not
seriously hurt.  
The lightning strike that hit Venice Beach, California a few days ago, killing one person and injurig more than a dozen, was extremely unexpected.

It hit pretty much without warning. Witnesses said the first hint of lightning from the approaching storm cloud is the one that caused the death and injuries.

Since lightning is extremely rare along the coast of southern California, it's not surprising that people had no idea this was coming.

Lightning deaths have declined in the United States in recent years, mostly because of greater public awareness. Weather historian Christopher Burt at Weather Underground has an excellent summary of the Venice Beach strike, and lightning strikes in general in the United States. 

But most of the time, in most of the rest of the country, we know when a thunderstorm is coming. We see the darkening sky, we hear the distant rumbles of thunder. That's your cue to get out of the water, off the golf course, off the beach, off the mountain and into a building or your car.

Watch the video below for a close call to illustrate what I mean. The couple was snorkeling at a resort in Mexico when lifeguards kicked everybody out of the water because a thunderstorm was approaching.

The couple, the guy still in his snorkeling mask, decided to take a selfie instead of getting into a building, you know, maybe the hotel bar for a nice cocktail.

This is what happened:

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