Lightning kills around 100 Americans per year and injures about 250. Property loss is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
It is estimated that at any given moment nearly 2000 thunderstorms are in progress over the earth and lightning strikes 100 times each second. There are at least 100,000 thunderstorms annually across the united states.
National statistics show that males in their teens and 20s are the most likely to be killed by lightning and that most deaths occur in open fields, near or under trees or around water. Eighty percent of the fatalities occur between the hours of 10 AM and 7 PM LST.
Lightning is an effect of electrification within a thunderstorm. As the thunderstorm develops, interactions of charged particles produce an intense electrical field within the cloud. A large positive charge is concentrated in the frozen upper layers of the cloud, and a large negative charge with a smaller positive area is found in the lower parts.
A lightning flash may be two or three hundred feet long. Sometimes it is much longer, as much as 5 or more miles. The flash looks quite wide, but most of what you see is glowing air. The flash itself may be only as wide as a pencil. It is very hot. Sometimes temperatures reach 30,000 degrees Celsius, that is, five times hotter than the sun.
Thunder is the sound lightning makes. The lightning pushes the air from its path, expanding it quickly, causing thunder.
All of us must respect lightning. It is dangerous and it kills! We do not have to be afraid of it, though, if we protect ourselves from lightning by observing the lightning safety rules.