WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK
Hazardous Weather Awareness Week
takes place from February 2-9, 2008. This year’s theme is “8 Days in ’08”
and recognizes the one year anniversary of the Groundhog Day tornadoes that
struck Sumter, Lake, and Volusia counties during the night of February 2,
2007. Hazardous Weather Awareness Week is an opportunity for Floridians to
learn about the various weather hazards that frequently impact the state and
how families and businesses can prepare for these natural events.
Each day focuses on a specific weather
event. Monday’s focus is on lightning. Lightning is among the top
weather-related killers in the United States, striking the ground about 25
million times each year and causing more injury and death than tornadoes.
The 2008 Florida Hazardous Weather
Awareness Week is a perfect time to note that our state, out of all 50
states, is the lightning capital of the country. Florida is bounded by the
Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. As a result,
daytime heating often generates boundaries that move inland from our coasts
during the day. When these boundaries collide, thunderstorms are the result.
As the #1 thunderstorms threat in Florida,
lightning results in an average of 10 fatalities and 40 injuries each year.
Unfortunately, 10 people in Florida died form lightning strikes on 2007.
Nearly half of all lightning deaths occur
in open areas. Many people are struck when they go under a tree to keep dry
during a storm. Outdoor water activities such as swimming, boating and
fishing are equally as dangerous during lightning storms. Did you know that
a lightning strike to the ground or water can travel more than 30 feet in
all directions and has been known to strike as much as 10 miles away from a
thunderstorm? Therefore, when thunderstorms are approaching, avoid outdoor
activities as if your life depends on it – because it does!
The National Weather Service and Florida
Division of Emergency Management promote the “30-30 Rule” in seeking shelter
during thunderstorms. The 30-30 Rule states: “When you see lightning, count
the time it takes until you hear thunder. If this time is less than 30
seconds, go immediately to a safer place. Wait 30 minutes ore more after
hearing the last clap of thunder before leaving your shelter.” This rule
works best when a thunderstorm is approaching an area. Be alert to changes
in sky conditions. A darkening cloud is often the first sign that lightning
may strike. As soon as you see lightning or hear thunder, it is best to seek
shelter in a substantial building and do not be tempted to watch lightning
from open windows or doors.
For more information on lightning hazards
and what you can do to protect yourself, go to
www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov and also