Lightning should not be taken lightly: 3 struck, killed last week in US

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
July 10, 2018, 10:23:16 AM EDT

Lightning from average thunderstorms continues to be a significant risk to lives this summer.

Thunderstorms do not have to be severe to produce cloud to ground lightning strikes.

Even though lightning fatalities in the United States have been on the decline since records began in the 1940s, lightning continues to be a leading weather-related killer on a national and worldwide basis each year.

Static AP Lightning

After an hour long weather delay, a lightning strike occurs as Texas State warms up in Doak Campbell Stadium prior to an NCAA college football game against Florida State in Tallahassee, Florida., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

"Three people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States spanning July 5 and 6, 2018," according to John Jensenius, National Weather Service lightning safety specialist and warning coordination meteorologist.

"One person was killed and another injured while working on a roof in Kansas City, Missouri, during Thursday afternoon," Jensenius said. "Another person was struck and killed in Russellville, Arkansas, while working in the yard on Friday."

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A third fatality occurred on Friday in Kingston, Tennessee. A 75-year-old man was walking toward his home after mowing the lawn when he was reportedly struck and killed, according to Jensenius.

Storms will riddle a large part of the southern half of the nation through the week.

SE regional 7/10

Storms will also affect part of the northern tier of the Central states.

In the Rockies and other mountain ranges of the West, which have been nearly absent of storms in recent weeks, the beginning of the monsoon will cause storms to be common in the upcoming days and weeks.

Midweek July 8

As of Saturday, July 7, the total number of fatalities from lightning is 11, which is just shy of the average of 12 to date in the U.S. Of these, five have been struck and killed in Florida so far this year with two each in Arkansas and Tennessee. There has been a death reported in both Texas and Missouri. Nine of the victims were male.

Static AP Baseball

Lightning strikes near Citizens Bank Park during a storm before a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, July 3, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

People were struck while standing near or under trees, fishing, lingering on the beach and staying out in the open in general.

Always move indoors at the first rumble of thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are at risk of being struck by lightning.

The safest place to be during a storm is in a home or building with a roof and enclosed walls. Avoid standing near windows and screen doors or on porches and beneath overhangs.

A good option is sheltering in a hard-topped vehicle.

Golf carts, motorcycles, convertibles, picnic pavilions, gazebos and tents are not good choices. Get off the lake and away from the beach.

Never stand under a tree or a small group of trees.

If hiking, move down the mountainside as quickly as possible. A widespread, thick forested area in a valley is a relatively safe option when hiking or camping, when a vehicle is too far away.

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