My dad, and longtime Farmers’ Almanac editor, Ray Geiger, was a 1932 Notre Dame graduate. He lived and breathed Fighting Irish football for over 60 years of his life. A few weekends ago, South Florida beat Notre Dame in a game opener. While that is big news for the Bulls, I think the bigger story was how officials handled the game. Because of thunder and lightning, the game was put on hold for hours. At least three college games were either delayed or cancelled because of lightning. Dozens of high school games around the country also fell victim to the weather.
I mention this because the most recent lightning fatalities — a 59-year-old man near a mountain and a 40-year-old man on a lake — bring the total number of deaths to 22 this year. In the 1970s, the average deaths ran about 73 per year. More recently, it is about 53. We are on track to continue this decline, and I attribute it to the National Weather Service who issue alerts, and good judgment by officials, such as at the Notre Dame stadium, who take proper precautions.
Any death is too many, but to see this decline is encouraging. When you open your 2012 Farmers’ Almanac, go to page 52 and read the story “Struck by Lightning,” by Beth Herman. This article recounts the stories of lightning strike survivors Robert Wagner of Cincinnati, Anna West of Beacon, N.Y., Marvin Ryan of Craftsbury, Vt., and Paul Morneau of East Vassalboro, Maine, who was hit and survived not once but twice. We also share valuable lightning safety tips from the National Weather Service and NOAA.
There are many storms yet to come this year — so be careful when outdoors. And, if you oversee a football or soccer game, take extra special care — lives may depend upon it.