GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — We have all heard the saying, “when thunder roars, head indoors,” but surprisingly enough, there are still a lot of lightning safety myths roaming around.
So, “when thunder roars, where should we not be standing?”
In order for lightning to form, there must be an unstable environment when warm moist air rises, condenses, and cools, leading to cloud development. All clouds contain charges. Positive charges reside at the top of the cloud with negative charges at the bottom of the cloud. Positive charges located at the surface will migrate towards the negative charges in the cloud. Once these charges connect, lightning forms.
One common lightning myth is that a tree can shield away lightning, but standing under a tree is one of the most dangerous places to be. This is because of those migrating charges, which actually climb up objects such as trees.
Tents, picnic areas and porches are also not safe locations to hide from lightning. Another common misconception is crouching down in an area outside will lessen your chances of being struck by lightning. This is also not true.
The last common myth is that lightning never hits the same place twice. Lightning more often than not hits the tallest standing object. For example, the Empire State building gets struck by lightning about 100 times a year.
Another important note is that even though you may not see a storm or rain falling from the sky, lightning can still strike where you are standing with surrounding storms. That’s why we use the saying “when thunder roars, head in doors’ because thunder is the sound of lightning once it cuts through the atmosphere.
If you hear thunder, lightning has struck somewhere near you.