I understand the limited liability
Posted by: scombrid on Jul-04-11 11:14 AM (EST)
I understand the extremely limited liability of government forecasters under sovereign immunity. That doesn't stop people from bringing suits or complaining to their congressman that "something has to be done". NWS, USGS Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, etc... get sued all the time over thunderstorms, hurricanes, inaccurate river forecasts, rip current drownings,.... The vast majority of suits are thrown out under FTCA protection but a few are successful. Inaccuracy in forecasting is immune from negligence or liability claims for the most part. Giving the all clear when data still indicates "some" level of risk has resulted in a couple of successful lawsuits.
An irrational public gets you unreasonable safety recommendations from an agency concerned with public safety. This is the reason that a rotating thunderstorm that might produce an EF0 at most generates the same automatic "run for the hills" canned tornado warning as an obvious supercell with a hook echo and likely tornado on the ground.
As far as the relative risk of lightening. If I never modified my activity around storms, living where I live, the risk of death or severe injury by lightening probably would become comparable to other more common causes of death or severe injury, not up there with driving a car but not insignificant either. When we are having one of our typical summer storms with lots of lightening I'd be foolish to go out and do scheduled intervals on the lake in my carbon fibre boat with my carbon fiber paddle. Likewise, if I followed the 30 minutes rule or the "if you can hear thunder rule" I'd never go outside during the wet season. But I don't consider completely dismissing the risk entirely as too remote to worry about to be a reasonable action in an area with the strike density that we have.