16 Lifesaving Facts About Thunderstorms

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Hovering clouds, bursts of lightning, echoes of thunder and rough winds…

Here are 16 remarkable facts about thunderstorms.

Fact 1: As you read this numerous thunderstorms are raging across the planet. To be exact, there are 1,800 thunderstorms progressing somewhere on the earth at any given moment.

Fact 2: There are approximately 16 million thunderstorms on our planet each year!

Fact 3: Lightening, a common occurrence in thunderstorms, kills an average of 58 people per year in the US.

Fact 4: A single spark of lightening can reach scorching temperatures of 50,000 Fahrenheit, or 28,000 degrees, and contains 100 million electrical volts! Lightning is warmer than the Sun’s surface.

Fact 5: You can watch a storm form from the comfort of your living room by recreating convection, the action of warm air rising and cold air sinking. Thunderstorms always start from a cumulus cloud. When moist, warm air rises and condenses as it cools at a higher altitude it forms cumulonimbus clouds, responsible for thunderstorms.

Fact 6: The city of Tororo in Uganda has more thunderstorms than any other place in the world. For a period of nine years there was an average of 251 days of thunder per year!

Fact 7: Severe thunderstorms produce high winds, hail, tornadoes and flooding. Large hail can be very damaging to property, crops and human life. In 1986 in the Gopalganj district of Bangladesh hailstones weighed over 2 pounds, just less than 1 kilogram, and killed 92 people. They are the heaviest hailstones ever recorded.

Fact 8: Talking on the phone is the leading cause of lightning strikes inside the home.

Fact 9: If you have the effect of electrified hair in a storm it could mean that positive charges are climbing through you and looking to merge with the negatively charged system of the storm. The clouds are filled with negative charges whilst the ground emits positive charges. When the charge difference between the two is large enough, a spark jumps from the negative to the positive. This is a lightning bolt, a giant spark of energy.

Fact 10: By paying attention to thunder and lightning and following the 30-30 rule, you can calculate how far away the storm is from where you are standing. If you see lightning flash through the sky, count until you next hear the sound of thunder. If the difference between the two is 30 seconds or less, you are within 6 miles (ten kilometers) of the thunderstorm.

Fact 11: Thunderstorms are most common in spring and summer when the air is moist and warm.

Fact 12: If at the sound of a thunderstorm you dash under the bed or seek shelter under your sheets you have Astraphobia! Astraphobia is the fear of thunderstorms and, similar to other phobias, its symptoms are fear, sweating and shaking.

Fact 13: The sound heard prior to lightening is the sound of the rapid expansion of the air surrounding the lightning bolt. The air is heated by the immense warmth of lightning creating an explosion of compressed air particles in every direction and hence the booming sound.

Fact 14: Outside, lightening travels along the shell of a building or though metal gutters on its way to the ground, but inside it can flow through electrical wiring, radio and TV reception systems, concrete wires in flooring, plumbing and telephone lines.

Fact 15: Lightning enters the house in the following ways: by directly striking the house or through pipes or wires that spread externally into the ground.

Fact 16: People tend to believe that rubber shoes will protect them from a lightning strike, however this is false! You are just as likely to be hit by lightning in rubber shoes as in shoes made from any other material. It is however important to know that if you are carrying an umbrella during a storm and happen to be taller than objects surrounding you, you have a higher chance of being struck by lightning.

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