Pat Shingleton: Lightning alerts
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration designates June 22nd through the 28th as Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Lightning is the second leading atmospheric killer behind heat exhaustion. Additional factoids note that 82% of those killed are male and 70% of all lightning fatalities occur in June, July and August. Even though the diameter of a single bolt is the size of a quarter, it can increase the air temperature as much as 50,000 degrees, emitting 100 million volts. PVC piping has replaced traditional metal pipes, making homes more vulnerable to lightning hits and explosive fires. Interior piping in older homes formerly created a channel to advance lighting charges into the ground, thus the term "grounded." Ben Franklin's invention, the lightning rod, provided a safe path, into the ground, for a deadly bolt. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike and with nearly 25 million lightning strikes per year, 52 people are killed each year on average. It is not unusual for a lightning hit to occur 10 miles from the thunderstorm. Louisiana ranks second, behind Florida< for the number of lightning strikes.