The chance of your car being hit by lightning?

YouTube video from Russia shows why vehicle is safe place to be during storm

By Blake Mathews - Meteorologist
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Talk about something happening in flash. In an electrifying moment of sure terror lasting only tenths of a second, lightning seized on an SUV as it made its way down a Russian highway.

The video was captured on dashcam last week during a thunderstorm in Russia and posted on YouTube...


You see what appears to be an overcast day with light to moderate rainfall when lightning ripped through the sky and hits the vehicle with terrifying force.  Moments after the bolt hits the SUV, you see sparks laying on the concrete as the vehicle continues down the highway.

All occupants inside the vehicle, as well as the vehicle itself, were unscathed -- despite being hit by 50,000 volts of electricity.

This is a quintessential example of why being in a vehicle during a lightning storm, and not under a tree, is the best place to be. The metal of the vehicle acts as a cage that transmits the charge from the bolt to the ground via the rubber tires thus rendering the occupants inside the vehicle safe.

You may have also noticed that the SUV was not the highest point around. There were taller buildings in the background as well as trees and highway lighting. This is why it is stressed that being in the open during a thunderstorm is so dangerous.

Yes, it is true that lightning is "lazy"' in the sense that it will almost always take the quickest, easiest route to the ground therefore striking the higher objects. But not always.

Being on a sports field or golf course makes humans a sitting duck to be struck being that almost undoubtedly, people are the tallest object -- especially with a golf club in your hand.

The 30/30 rule

According to the National Weather Service, in the United States, there are about 25 million lightning flashes every year. Each of those is a potential killer.

While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. In addition, lightning injures many more people than it kills and leaves some victims with life-long health problems.

The best thing to remember is the 30/30 rule. If you hear thunder within 30 seconds of the flash, go indoors -- You are within striking distance. Do not go back outside until at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

Thankfully, as we progress into the fall months, the number of lightning producing storms begins to decrease with more stable, cooler air masses moving in from the north. 

However, this is Florida and thunderstorms are a fact of life here, even in the dead of winter. So don't let lightning catch you off guard.

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