Meteorologist struck by lightning talks safety - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Meteorologist struck by lightning talks safety

This week is National Lightning Safety Week, and no one knows the importance of lightning awareness than Andy Kula.

Kula is not only a Huntsville-based National Weather Service meteorologist, but he and his wife survived a lightning strike.

"Literally, took our breath away and slammed us to the ground. My wife took the main bolt. It went through her temple and out her ankle," Kula said.

It happened eighteen years ago in Kansas, but the memory is still crystal clear for Kula. Storm chasing with his then-fiancee, Sue, and his soon-to-be best man, they all were struck by lightning. His future wife took the direct hit as he and his friend stood about 20 feet away.

"My friend and I were knocked to the ground pretty much instantly. We both felt a charge. I know I felt it in my mouth and throughout my body," Kula recalled.

Kula said it's when the storm is unexpected that people can be the most vulnerable.

"Pop up thunderstorms may be the most dangerous lightning producers because they catch people off guard. And that's this time of the year, the summer months. We get a pop-up thunderstorm that can grow in ten minutes. From a cumulus cloud, a harmless cumulus cloud, in just minutes," Kula said.

Kula said it's what people do when the smaller, out of nowhere thunderstorms rise up that puts them at risk.

"Jogging, boating swimming, playing soccer...any activity...going from the grocery store to your car outside during a thunderstorm--all those activities can put you at risk for lightning." he said.

For more information about lightning safety and facts, click here

Copyright 2011 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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