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When lightning strikes, here's how to stay out of its path

Whether you're on the water, at camp, or hanging in the backyard, take heed: "When thunder roars, go indoors."

HARTFORD, Conn. — As humidity rises with the warming temperatures, it's important to be weather aware before lightning strikes.

Lightning strikes happen in the United States about 25 million times each year. Here's when it could happen and how to stay safe.

Whether you're on the water, at camp, or hanging in the backyard, take heed to this rhyme: "When thunder roars, go indoors."

There are many circumstances in which lightning could charge up. Sometimes it's clear and sunny, while during other times, big, towering clouds can give you a heads-up. Sometimes lightning jumps cloud-to-cloud, while other times, it's cloud-to-ground. 

How can the distance of lightning be determined, and is it coming in your direction? There's a trick to figure that out.

If you see a flash, count the number of seconds until you hear thunder and divide by five. That's the number of miles the storm is away from you. It takes about 5 seconds for the sound to travel 1 mile.

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For example, if you see a flash, and end up counting up to 10 seconds before thunder is heard, and divide by five, the storm is about two miles away.

Let's try another: See a flash and count three seconds before thunder is heard, divide by five. This makes the storm about 0.6 miles away.

Regardless, if you can hear thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning.

The best shelter from lightning is inside a large, enclosed structure, such as a home or school. 

No place outside is safe during a thunderstorm. 

Stay away from tall, isolated objects like trees or poles; these can become lightning rods. 

Open structures like gazebos, pavilions and baseball dugouts are not safe. 

If caught outside with no way to get indoors, find a low spot and crouch low to the ground. Don't lie down. 

Most importantly, know the forecast; have a way to get warnings and be ready to find shelter inside when you hear thunder.

Ryan Breton is a meteorologist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at rbreton@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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