Lightning dangerous even in weak thunderstorms

More than 20 million cloud to ground lightning strikes occur in the US each year, on average. Even weak storms can produce deadly lightning.

Just before 8 p.m. Saturday night, an off-duty firefighter was in the parking lot of Crew Stadium in Columbus waiting for the start of a soccer game when he was taken down by a bolt of lightning.

The strike sent the man, Stu Tudor, into cardiac arrest. He had to be resuscitated on site before being rushed to a local hospital. As of Sunday evening, Tudor was listed in critical condition.

But the lightning bolt that struck Tudor came from an average summertime thunderstorm. The fact is, no thunderstorm is safe. Even a weak one can produce a cloud to ground lightning bolt without warning, with potentially fatal results.

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And deadly lightning is an issue here in Ohio. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the Buckeye State had the fourth highest number of lightning deaths in the United States between 1959 and 2012, with 146 fatalities. Only North Carolina (194 deaths), Texas (215 deaths) and Florida (468 deaths) had more.

The NWS says about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed. Those who survive being struck by a 50,000 degree lightning bolt (hotter than the surface of the sun) are usually left with memory loss and neurological problems.

So itâ??s important to take every storm seriously, even the ones that arenâ??t severe. Lightning strikes the ground in the U.S. an average of 20 million times per year, on average. Itâ??s also important to remember you donâ??t have to be right under a storm to be in danger, as lightning has been known to strike 10 miles away from the actual thunderstorm.

A simple rule of thumb is if you can hear thunder, than youâ??re at risk of being struck by lightning. So when â??thunder roars, head indoorsâ??. Itâ??s a simple saying that could save your life.