It is a low-tech approach to staying safe when lightning could be in the immediate area. Still, thanks to advancements in forecast products, meteorologists are getting a more advanced warning when these sudden dangers could be on the horizon.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says several forecast offices around the country are using an experimental LightningCast product to determine who has the greatest chance of seeing lightning upwards of an hour before a strike.
The National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, has used the new product and believes it could help forecasters determine when summer thunderstorms develop.
Forecasters have found the product helpful when there is a significant, outdoor event, where organizers have their eyes glued to the weather forecast and to experts to learn about any potential impacts.
As the product becomes more accepted and widely used, it is hoped that forecasts not only improve but also alternative methods are developed to keep everyone safe and informed.
An estimated 40 million strikes impact the United States annually, and around 20 people are killed from lighting’s impacts.
So far in 2022, 14 deaths have occurred across the country, including three people taking cover under a tree near the White House and a mother waiting outside a school for her child in Central Florida.