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When thunder roars, go indoors: Severe Weather Awareness Week blog

State lightning fatality
Posted at 8:39 AM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 09:39:49-04

Get Ready to Rhyme! When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors, and Turn Around, Don't Drown

These two catchy sayings are worth remembering; they could save your life!

Lightning is a common threat with thunderstorms. It can occur in weak storms and strong storms alike. As the saying goes- When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. If you are outside and see lightning or hear thunder, head to a sturdy shelter as soon as possible! This should be an enclosed building with sturdy walls (not an open picnic shelter or gazebo), or in a pinch, jump in your vehicle (a hard topped vehicle). Lightning is attracted to tall objects, so DO NOT take shelter under a tree. If you are outside when a storm rolls in, and don't have a place to shelter, go to a low-lying area and stay away from tall objects!

Also, just because rain has stopped does not mean the threat for lightning is over. The term "bolt from the blue" is used to describe lightning that occurs away from the parent thunderstorm. According to the National Weather Service, there are documented events where lightning has struck up to 20 miles away from the main thunderstorm! Its best to wait 30 minutes after a storm has moved out to resume outdoor activities. You can also get an app for your smartphone that displays lightning or alerts you when lightning is in your area.

The below graphic shows the number of lightning fatalities ranked in grouping by state.

State lightning fatality

Specifically in Wisconsin, the southeast part of the state sees far more lightning events, injuries, and fatalities compared to the rest of the state.

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Between 2005 and 2014, there were 8 lightning casualties in Wisconsin. Each year in the U.S., lightning causes up to $6 billion in damage. Based on a 1988 to 2012 average, around 48 people die each year from lightning. Globally, yearly lightning deathsare estimated to range from 6,000-24,000.

Here is a video on lightning safety for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Find a lot more information on lightning and lightning safety here.

Flash flooding is yet another storm threat. This one, however, is not as common in Wisconsin. About 6% of severe storms in Wisconsin produce flash flooding. There are multiple reasons flash flooding can occur, slow moving thunderstorm, storm training, back-to-back heavy rain events, dam failures, ice jams... Whatever the cause, remember the saying Turn Around, Don't Drown.

Let this catchy tune get stuck in your head!


Never attempt to drive through a flooded road. Just six inches of fast-moving water can move a vehicle, and it only takes two feet of water to float a car. Also, do not play or recreate in flood waters. While it may seem fun to splash around in fresh flood waters, there can be some nasty stuff in there, like sewage, snakes, ants, ... you get the point.

According to the National Weather Service, floods are responsible for around 80 deaths each year (based on data from 1988-2012). If a Flash Flood Watch is issued for your location, be alert for rising water, and be ready to head to higher ground. A Flash Flood Warning indicates flooding is imminent or already occurring. Head to higher ground immediately!


Don't put off getting ready for severe weather season. Be sure to look for tomorrow's weather blog, where we will talk in depth about tornadoes!

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Also, join us on Facebook Live all week at 10 am and 7 pm for the opportunity to chat about severe weather with Storm Team 4.

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