15 Things About Thunderstorms You Probably Didn’t Know and Why You Should Keep Your Feet Together During One
Little kids think thunder is scarier than lightning. Adults know better. But not every myth you’ve ever heard about thunderstorms is necessarily true. However, there is a weird reason why you should keep your feet together during a thunderstorm (page six) that you probably never knew.
Ahead, check out the 15 things you never knew about thunderstorms.
1. Lightning is more common than you think
It may seem like a rare event, but in reality, lightning strikes all over the world more than eight million times per day. Divided up, that’s about 93 times per second — which isn’t so rare after all. Those 15 million volts of electricity are enough to explode a full-grown tree.
Next: You can’t have thunder without this one thing.
2. There’s no thunder without lightning
Even if you can’t see the lightning, you’ll know it’s there. Thunder is actually caused by lightning.
Lightning heats the narrow channel of air it occurs in (called a resonating tube) to high temperatures, causing pockets of high air pressure. The sound you hear is just waves emanating out of the lightning bolt — that’s what we call thunder.
Next: You’ll never believe what can fall out of the sky.
3. Raining cats and dogs is a real thing
Well, maybe not literally. Raining house pets would be almost impossible. But scientists say that occasionally storms can carry enough strength to launch small animals into the air, which will lead to them “raining” down later.
Residents of a remote Australian town experienced two solid days of raining fish in 2010.
Next: That thing about tires is a myth.
4. Rubber tires don’t protect you from lightning
It’s true that the safest spot for you to wait out the storm is in your vehicle. But it’s not for the reason you think.
When lightning hits your car during a storm, the electricity travels on the exterior of the car and down the ground so it doesn’t touch you. But be sure to avoid touching any metal on the interior or you could get injured.
Next: Doing this can be fatal.
5. You shouldn’t drive through water
It may look like a puddle, but that standing water in the road could be dangerous — or even deadly. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least half of all drowning deaths come from people driving their vehicles in water, and it only takes six inches of water to lose control of your car.
Better play it safe than sorry. When you see water across a roadway, turn around and go the other way.
Next: Here’s why keeping your feet together can save your life.
6. Keep your feet together
Let’s say the worst thing happens and you get stuck outside in a lightning storm without shelter. In this case, keep your feet together to minimize the chance of an electrical current traveling through the ground and into your body (which could cause damage to your internal organs).
You’re better off avoiding trees — which could fall — and assuming a crouching position but not lying down.
Next: You won’t believe this crazy lightning fact.
7. Lightning is hotter than the sun
The sun is powerful enough to sustain life on earth. But believe it or not, lightning is even hotter. It’s about 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is five times hotter than the surface of the sun.
You’re much more likely to get a sunburn than you are to get struck by lightning, though.
Next: Here’s when thunderstorm injuries happen most.
8. You’re more likely to be injured after a storm than during one
Crashing thunder, flashing lightning — a storm might sound dramatic, but you’re much more likely to get hurt from the aftermath than you are during the event. Downed power lines and tree branches, flooding, and malfunctioning stoplights are all storm-related problems that could cause serious injuries.
Next: The real reason to never wash dishes during a thunderstorm.
9. Steer clear of running water during a storm
Most people don’t realize that lightning can travel through plumbing and shock anyone who comes in contact with the water. That’s why it’s a bad plan to take a shower, wash dishes, or do laundry during a thunder or lightning storm.
Next: This is one place you should never seek shelter.
10. A wooden structure isn’t a safe shelter
If you get stuck in a storm during your park or golf outing, a wooden pavilion isn’t your safest option. Unless these structures are specifically designed to withstand lightning (and most aren’t), then they can actually make you more vulnerable to getting struck.
Your safest bet? Stay in your car during the storm.
Next: Always do this one thing right before a storm.
11. Fill the tub
One of the first things you should do before or during a bad storm is fill the bathtub with water. That way you’ll have a safe source of water for drinking, flushing toilets, and washing items even if the power goes out.
It’s not a bad idea to keep a few cases of bottled water on hand, too.
Next: This can help keep you safe in a storm.
12. Stay in touch with radio
Have a ham radio nerd in the family? Have them teach you their ways.
During powerful storms or other natural disasters, relaying information can become very difficult. A battery-operated or hand crank radio can help you stay in communication with other people no matter what.
Next: Do this before a storm to save money.
13. Unplug your electronics
Not even the best surge protector on the market can completely protect your electronics from damage, especially if your house gets struck by lightning. Take precaution by unplugging everything in advance of the storm to save your pricey stuff.
Next: This myth about lightning is true.
14. Lightning strikes twice — or more
You the one about lightning never striking the same spot twice? It’s totally false.
Lightning is most likely to be attracted to tall, pointy structures and trees, so it stands to reason that the tallest and pointiest will be hit more than once. Weather.com reports that the Empire State Building is struck by lightning about 23 times per year.
Next: Your chances of getting struck are increasing.
15. The fear of lightning is real
You have about a one in 12,000 chance of getting struck by lightning, but astraphobia (the fear of being struck) is the third most common phobia in America. Still, all those people might be on to something: climate change could increase your chances of being struck to one in 8,000 by the year 2100.
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