Lightning can dazzle, but be deadly round-the-clock

Lightning can dazzle, but be deadly round-the-clock

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - When it comes to lightning-producing storms, the odds are against you.

"A lot of times it's awe-inspiring, 'Oh it's really pretty,' but we often forget how dangerous lightning actually can be," said Philip Blitzer.

Lightning strikes in just a flash - 1-1,000th of a second is all we see.

Blitzer knows just how powerful and deadly it is. He is a former high school coach who had a baseball player die from a lightning strike many years ago.

Now, Blitzer is at atmospheric science professor at UAH.

"And, it sort of led me to some of the research I'm doing these days to really inform folks about lightning safety and to always be careful during a thunderstorm," he said.

It's a passion Blitzer shares with Dr. Themis Chronis, who also studies the millions of lightning strikes we see each year.

Dr. Chronis says the most powerful strikes actually happen during the morning, since it takes more energy to bring positive and negative charges together without help from the sun.

"We think that when during an afternoon storm, everything is so well mixed; therefore, we expect a more homogenous distribution, if you like, as opposed to the morning hours," said Dr. Chronis.

It's a phenomenon that doesn't discriminate by location. Statistics show lightning kills nearly 50 people annually in the United States - a higher death rate than hurricanes.

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