Tampa Bay is known as the lightning capital of the nation. In June, 1993, more than 21,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes occurred within a 50-mile radius of Tampa Bay. In June 1 1994, the number of flashes rose to an incredible 50,000.
Florida averages 10 deaths and 30 injuries a year from lightning. Since 1959, Florida has had more than 350 lightning-related deaths and more than 1,000 injuries. The temperature of a single bolt can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, about five times as hot as the sun's surface; lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from the storm.
Statistics: where most lightning deaths occur
54% - open fields, ball parks, golf courses
23% - under trees
12% - beaches and boats
7% - operating farm equipment
4% - other (near open windows, bicycling, etc)
Lightning myths and truths
Myth: if it is not raining, there is no danger from lightning.
Truth: Lightning can strike outside of rain. If you hear thunder, the storm is close enough to post a lightning threat.
Myth: The rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a vehicle will protect you from lightning.
Truth: Rubber soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. The steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside it.
Myth: People struck by lightning carry an electric charge and should not be touched.
Truth: Lightning strike victims carry no charge and should be attended to immediately. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information on CPR and first aid classes. (Or join one of our upcoming CPR classes!)
Myth: "Heat lightning" occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.
Truth: Heat lightning is a term used to describe lightning from a storm too far away for thunder to be heard.