Monsoon Special 2013: Watch out for lightning during Ariz. summer monsoon

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by Kim Quintero

Bio | Email | Follow: @kimquintero

azfamily.com

Posted on June 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Lightning is a big threat during Arizona’s summer monsoon season. According to data from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, it is the No. 2 weather-related killer in the United States.

Each year, Arizona averages about 600,000 lightning strikes. The majority of those happen during the summer monsoon season. According to NOAA, between 2002 and 2012, seven people across Arizona were killed by lightning.

“The key there is to be aware," said Ken Waters, warning coordinator at the National Weather Service in Phoenix. "Look around when you first hear that thunder. Take appropriate actions.”

Life-saving strategies

Lightning can strike from as far away as 10 miles, even if it's not raining and the skies are clear. If you're headed outdoors, it's important to have a plan. If you're not near a shelter, the next best place is inside of a car with the windows rolled up and the door closed.

If you're outside with a sports team and there's a chance of thunderstorms, make sure someone is watching the weather. Darkening skies, towering clouds and gusty winds might mean a storm is moving in. Find shelter in a sturdy, closed building. This will deflect lightning into the ground

A golf course can be a lightning hazard. The open space is a prime target for direct hits. Lightning can travel through the ground from a nearby strike. So if severe weather threatens, head to shelter.

While a shaded park bench seems inviting, trees are a risky spot to hide under. Lightning strikes the highest points. Avoid tall trees and high ground. Also avoid water and metal objects because they're both highly conductive.

If you're standing in the middle of a field with nowhere to go, crouch to the ground with your heels together, standing on the balls of your feet and keep your head down.
 

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