Whether you love them or hate them, thunderstorms are a fact of life about this time of the year in Calgary. Here are some interesting facts about thunderstorms that you may not know.
A thunderstorm can be considered to be severe if it is accompanied by gusts of wind that blow at a speed of 58 mph or more or there are hail stones that are an inch in diameter. When a storm is approaching an area you'll often hear a thunderstorm warning or watch bulletin on your local radio or TV station. The differences between a watch and a warning are:
A thunderstorm watch - A thunderstorm watch is less severe than a warning. It indicates that a thunderstorm is in the area but it's not close enough to issue a warning. The storm may hit the city or part of it or it may bypass the city altogether.
A thunderstorm warning - A warning indicates that a severe thunderstorm is on its way and you should get prepared for it.
Approximately 10% of thunderstorms can be classified as being severe. In Canada, there as many as 164 injuries from lightning and 9 -10 people on average die from a lightning strike annually. Most of the injuries and fatalities that are related to a lightning strike take place in Ontario and the majority of the deaths from lightning occur in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Québec and Ontario. About 94% of the deaths and 74% of the injuries happen between the months of June and August.
A person that has been struck by lightning doesn't hold any electrical charge and can receive immediate medical care. Most victims of a lightning strike are males under the age of 45 that are engaged in recreational activities outside. While it is commonly understood that your chances of being hit by lightning are one in a million, it is actually closer to one in 600,000. Of course, if you regularly take the necessary safety precautions, your own personal odds are reduced.
In many cases, lightning doesn't strike in the heavy rain portion of the storm but away from it. Heat lightning refers to the lightning that you can see from a thunderstorm that is far away in the distance. Although you can see the heat lightning, you won't be able to hear the thunder from the storm.