Lightning is responsible for killing an average of 73 people per year in the U.S. It's one of the biggest weather hazards. There are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes every year. It can be fun to watch but very dangerous as well.

Lightning doesn't get as much attention as tornadoes or hurricanes since it usually has only one or two victims at a time. Because of under reporting, there are likely many more deaths and injuries than we hear about. An average of two deaths per year occur in Missouri. The state ranks 17th nationally in lightning deaths.

Lightning is a way the atmosphere releases pent up energy. Negatively charges particles gather at the bottom of a storm cloud ... positively charged particles gather along the ground and move along with the storm.

As the differences in charges increase, positively charged particles rise up taller objects like trees, buildings, and even people. That's why if you are near a storm and your hair stands on end, drop to the balls of your feet and crouch down. Lightning could strike very close by!

The negatively charged particles extend down from the cloud in steps and they form a step ladder. If it gets close enough to the ground or a tall object filled with positively charged particles, a path is formed and an electrical transfer takes place… that is a lightning stroke.

Its temperatures can reach 50,000 degrees F which is five times hotter than the sun.

The rapid expansion of air around the channel breaks the sound barrier which is what makes thunder.

Did you know that lightning can strike as much as 10 miles away from the parent cloud? That's about the distance you are able to hear the thunder from a distant storm.

Most common locations to be hit by lightning:
1. open field
2. under trees
3. in or near water
4. while playing golf
5. while using heavy equipment
6. while on the telephone
7. near a radio, transmitter or antenna

Gender most likely involved in lightning strikes:

Months of most incidents:
July, August, and June

Top 5 states with lightning related deaths:
Florida, North Carolina, Texas, New York, and Tennessee

Lightning Safety
1. Stay inside a completely enclosed building
2. Do not go to a carport, open garage, covered patio, or open window
3. A hard topped all metal vehicle provides good protection
4. Do not take shelter under a tree
5. Avoid being the tallest object in the area
6. Get out of the water, off the beach and out of small boats or canoes
7. Do not use metal objects such as golf clubs, metal bats, fishing rods, or metal tools
8. Stop and get off of tractors and heavy construction equipment
9. Stay away from windows, doors, and metal pipes
10. Do not use electrical appliances
11. Do not use a hard line phone