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Thunderstorm / Lightning Facts

Thunderstorms are a common spring and summer occurrence throughout the state of Ohio. Many Ohioans may not realize that a thunderstorm winds and lighting kill more people every year than tornadoes.

- Although hurricanes and tornadoes receive most of the recognition, lighting occurs more often in the United States. More than 40 million lighting strikes occur every year, resulting in nearly 100 deaths.

- All thunderstorms produce lighting. Lighting often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

- Lighting results from the buildup and discharge of electrical energy between positively and negatively charged areas. The action of rising and descending air within a thunderstorm separates positive and negative charges.

- An average flash could illuminate a 100-watt light bulb for more than three months.

- The air near a lighting strike is heated to 50,000 degrees, which is hotter than the surface of the sun. The rapid heating and cooling of the air near the lighting channel causes a shockwave that results in thunder.

- Ohio experiences thunderstorm activity of about 30 to 50 days annually.

- The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts 30 minutes.

- Of the estimated 100,000 thunderstorms that occur each year in the United States, only about 10 percent are classified as severe.

- Severe thunderstorms can produce damaging winds as strong as the winds in a weak tornado and can be life threatening.

- A severe thunderstorm can produce hail that is 3/4 inch in diameter or larger and/or winds of 58 mph or higher and can produce tornadoes.

- Large hail causes nearly $1 billion in damage to property and crops annually.

- The costliest U.S. hailstorm occurred in Denver, July 11, 1990. Total hail damage was estimated at $625 million.

- Lighting strikes the earth 100 times every second.
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