Lightning: Myths and Facts - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Lightning: Myths and Facts

BILLINGS, Mont. -

Many people know the obvious danger of standing under a tree, but surprisingly it is still the second leading cause of lightning casualties.

Is it OK if I crouch down? Nope! MYTH! Crouching doesn't make you any safer. Nor does lying down flat which increases your chance of being zapped by deadly ground current.

If you are caught outside, keep moving toward a safe shelter. That could be your car. Most vehicles ARE safe from lightning, thanks to the metal roof and metal sides. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. If you're in a convertible, or a vehicle with a fiberglass shell, you have virtually no protection from lightning. It has nothing to do with the rubber tires.

What kind of structures attract lightning? It depends on the height, pointy shape, and isolation. A metal flagpole will conduct electricity just as easily as a tree or a wooden totem pole. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes.

What about your home? A house IS a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity like corded phones, appliances, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows.

Another myth: no rain means no lightning. The fact is lightning can occur when it's not raining and often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm. The term "bolt from the blue" is not a myth. Lightning can typically strike 10 to 15 miles from the center of a thunderstorm, and NASA has documented anvil lightning bolts traveling more than 75 miles.

So when you hear the rumble, you and your family should hustle to safety. While it may sound hokey, the NWS has a good rule to remember:  "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors."

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