Lightning strike probabilities
Posted by: cave_demon on Jul-10-11 6:52 PM (EST)
There seem to be a lot of comments blaming NOAA for "overreacting" to lightning, but their "fear-mongering" is justified. I'm a meteorologist, so this is one topic that I actually know something about (unlike most others). The reason why the probability of being struck by lightning appears to be low is because the vast majority of the population is not outside when severe storms occur. If everyone ran outside when a severe storm is occurring, you'd find that the chances of being struck are a lot higher than you think. Most people are sane enough to stay indoors when severe weather occurs. The reason why few paddlers get struck is because not many people go paddling when there is a strong chance for storms. Of course you can, especially in the South, get caught in an afternoon quickie thunderstorm, but these are rarely severe thunderstorms, and tend to last for a very short duration. The big frontal severe storms are well-forecasted and people generally stay inside those days, especially if you have outdoor plans.
If you're out on the water when a severe thunderstorm is approaching or lightning has struck nearby, get to the shore as quickly as possible, unless it's just rock outcrops or barren sandy beach. If so, then you're simply in the position of hoping you don't get struck.