ST. LOUIS – St. Louis summers mean heat, humidity, and storms. Storms mean dangerous lightning. With so many people spending a lot of time outdoors, it’s imperative to be aware of when lightning may be nearby.
Recent lightning data shows that Missouri has the third highest amount of lightning strikes per square kilometer, behind Florida and Oklahoma. Most of these strikes occur during the summer months.
A typical lightning flash is 300 million volts and 30,000 amps and can light a 100-watt incandescent bulb for about three months. The air it passes through can be heated to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is five times hotter than the surface of the sun. Lightning strikes injure hundreds of people in the United states a year.
Many lightning deaths happen at the beginning of an approaching storm but some occur once the storm has passed. Lightning can strike where it’s not raining, and even when there is sunshine overhead.
“We do have a saying in the national weather service. When thunder roars, go indoors. Because if you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning,” said Mark Fuchs, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.