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ABC-7 Xtra: This year’s Monsoon has seen prolific lightning strikes

EL PASO, Texas - This year's Monsoon has been busy all across the Borderland. As of August 10, the El Paso International Airport has received just over two inches of rain, and New Mexico State University in Las Cruces has seen over four inches of rain.

But with the rain comes lightning, and lightning can be deadly. On August 4, a lightning bolt struck and killed three individuals and injured another across the street from the White House. The victims were standing under a tree when they were struck.

In late July, a lightning strike hit ten people at Fort Gordon, Georgia, killing one and injuring the other nine. The lightning strike death toll is up to 13 fatalities so far this year, two more than last year's total.

ABC-7 spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Connor Dennhardt about the capabilities of lightning. He informed us that, "only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning actually die. The other 90% do suffer from various issues such as neurological or cardiac issues."

He also told us that the national average amount of lightning related deaths has been on the decline over the past several years, which he attributes to society becoming more weather aware.

What happens if you encounter or witness someone who was just struck by lightning? Dennhardt had this to say about rendering aid:

"One of the common myths that we like to debunk here is that if you do see someone struck by lightning, you can render aid to them immediately. The human body does not store electricity. There is no risk of you getting struck by lightning when you are rendering care to someone who has been struck by lightning." 

Now to the do's and dont's of lightning safety. You DON'T want to be out in an open field, on a mountain, under a tree, near a tall pole, under a metal gazebo, or in or near any body of water.

You DO want to be inside a non-metal structure, such as a home or apartment. Cars are actually a somewhat safe place to be in during a thunderstorm because the rubber will help direct the charge to the ground versus into your body.

If you are inside a safe building, you actually want to avoid using electrical outlets and plumbing, as lightning can travel through the metal in your walls if the home is struck. That means you should also avoid taking showers or using faucets in a lighttning storm.

Finally, about 30 minutes after the last time you heard thunder, it is safe to return outdoors to what you were doing previously. Now that you know all of these rules, I hope you will stay safe during the rest of this year's monsoon.

Article Topic Follows: Weather

Katie Frazier

Katie Frazier is an ABC-7 meteorologist and reporter.


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