An old adage says lightning never strikes the same spot twice, but Iowans need to be watchful so it doesn’t hit them even once.
If you can hear thunder, you’re at risk of being hit by lightning.
Jeff Johnson, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Des Moines, says if you live 80 years, the odds are one-in-5000 a bolt from the blue will find you.
Every year in Iowa, one to two people are killed by lightning on average. "Nationally, it’s the number-two killer from weather. Number-one is flash flooding." That puts lighting ahead of tornadoes and hurricanes.
If there’s a storm and you’re at home, Johnson suggests turning off your computer and unplugging it from the wall. He learned that lesson the hard way. Johnson says two summers ago, his house was hit by lightning and his computer was destroyed, even though it was plugged in but wasn’t turned on. He says the bolt went through all the copper, the water pipes and electrical systems, until it hit the ground.
He says many of your expensive home electronics are at risk if there’s a foul storm brewing.
Johnson says another potential trouble spot is your TV satellite dish if it’s not properly grounded. If it’s hit by lightning, it’ll go right through the wires and will take out all of your electronics, and he says surge protectors won’t give you much protection at all from a lightning strike.
Lightning is an underrated threat, according to Johnson. He says if you’re outside and you hear thunder, take shelter in a building with four walls and a roof or a hard-top car, not a convertible.
This is National Lightning Awareness Week.
For more information about lightning safety and other weather-related issues, surf to: www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/week.htm .