Being outdoors when a massive thunderstorm approaches is a very scary thing. In 1975, I was on a camping trip with 14 boys and another counselor. We packed our equipment and headed to base camp when we rounded an island to be met with the most powerful thunder/ lightning storm I had ever seen. Not a good place to be with boys in aluminum boats and 9.9 hp motors. We scurried to the rocks, threw tarps over ourselves and waited it out. But, it was one of the most terrified moments I have ever been through.
It is also the reason I try to remind folks about the dangers of summer storms. Over a 30 years span, the average deaths attributed to lightning strikes is 70 per year. Thanks to great education efforts by NOAA and changes in how athletic events handle storms, we saw the fewest deaths in 2013 — only 23.
It’s not quite summer and already we have recorded 5 deaths — all men 40 years and older , and 3 of them were in Florida. Central Florida is the lightning capital of the US. The most recent case was working on a roof in Pompano Beach under clear skies when a single bolt struck him. It reminds me of a young female soccer player in Maine who, under clear skies, was killed by a bolt from a storm 10 miles away.
Be safe as you enjoy all that the summer outdoors has to offer. And check out some of our helpful lightning tips on our site.