07/26/13 — Lightning strikes most dangerous on open water

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Lightning strikes most dangerous on open water

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on July 26, 2013 1:47 PM


The volatile weather across eastern North Carolina this summer has had serious consequences.

Farmers are worried about tobacco crops, emergency officials are concerned about the potential for flooding and outdoorsmen are leery of being caught in a storm.

A recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) did nothing to quell the pessimism. Findings published this week show that more people are struck by lightning while fishing than any other outdoor activity.

The NOAA study says 64 percent of lightning deaths in the United States since 2006 occurred while people were participating in leisure activities, with fishing topping the list at 26 deaths. A total of 152 people have been killed by lightning while participating in leisure activities during that time.

"When people think of lightning deaths, they usually think of golf," NOAA representative John Jensenius said. "While every outdoor activity is dangerous when a thunderstorm is in the area, outdoor activities other than golf lead to more lightning deaths."

Golfers were hit by lightning just eight times according to the study. Jensenius said the large number of fishing, camping and boating lightning deaths occur because these activities require extra time to get to a safe place.

"People often wait far too long to head to safety when a storm is approaching, and that puts them in a dangerous and potentially deadly situation," Jensenius said.

Lightning can strike from 10 miles away, so if fishermen can hear thunder, they are in danger of being struck by lightning. The only safe places to be during a thunderstorm are inside a building or in a car. A tent, canopy or other rain shelter will not protect a person from being struck by lightning.

Over the past seven years, 82 percent of people killed by lightning were male.