As summer arrives, Iowans are reminded about lightning risks

JOHNSTON — Today is the first day of summer, which means more bike rides, family picnics, playing baseball in the park, and an urgent refresher course on the risks of being struck by lightning.

Meteorologist Marvin Percha, at the National Weather Service office in Johnston, says this is Lightning Safety Awareness Week. “Of course, we’re going into the summer and people are going to be outdoors a lot, enjoying the summer weather after a long winter,” Percha says, “and if you’re outside and you’ve got storms around, you certainly make yourself vulnerable for lightning. We have some suggestions on how to protect yourself from the risk of lightning.”

Iowans may disregard the dangers, but Percha says lightning poses a very legitimate threat, especially with thunderstorms possible in parts of Iowa this weekend. “One of the things we say is, ‘When thunder roars, go indoors,’ so if you hear thunder, there’s definitely lightning out there,” Percha says. “What you want to do is you want to go to a safe spot so you minimize or eliminate the risk of being struck by lightning.”

The National Weather Service reports lightning has killed four people nationwide so far this year, while two Iowans have died from being hit by lightning in past 10 years. Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun and can reach temperatures of 50-thousand degrees.

Learn more about lightning safety at