Dangerous lightning can be a fire starter - FOX 13 News

  • Download the FOX 2 Apps


  • FOX 2 News Five-Day Forecast

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Dangerous lightning can be a fire starter

Posted: Updated:
Lightning in the sky near the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Lightning in the sky near the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

Severe weather can happen at any time in Southeast Michigan, and one main threat is lightning.

What is lightning?  It's a powerful electrical charge that travels from the cloud to cloud or the cloud to Earth surface.

When lightning passes through the air, it heats and expands that surrounding air.  The air then cools quickly.  This fast expansion of warming and cooling of the air causes a sound wave that we know as thunder.

Lightning travels at the speed of light, which is extremely fast, whereas thunder travels at the speed of sound, which is slower, explaining why we see lightning and then hear thunder.

There's an easy equation to tell how far away the lightning is.  Count the seconds between the lightning and thunder and divide by five.  For example, 15 seconds equals three miles, five seconds equals one mile and so on.

Lightning is a powerful electrical current, and one lightning strike can produce enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for almost three months.

Lightning is extremely dangerous and causes forest, grass and house fires.  There are over 4,000 house fires a year caused from lightning alone in the United States.

If you're enjoying the outdoors but can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike, and you should seek shelter immediately.

Here are some guidelines to keep you and your family safe during a thunderstorm when lightning strikes.  Get inside to a house, large building or car with the windows rolled up.  Stay off your cell phone, and avoid contact with sinks, tubs and toilets as lightening is an electrical current and can travel through the pipes into your home.  Lastly, stay away from windows and doors until the storm has passed.

  • Detroit Weather Authority Forecast: Afternoon showers

    Detroit Weather Authority Forecast: Afternoon showers

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:10 AM EDT2014-07-29 09:10:03 GMT
    Weather Authority Alan Longstreet: A cool morning with rain on the way.
    Weather Authority Alan Longstreet: A cool morning with rain on the way.
  • Power outage numbers across southeast Michigan

    Power outage numbers across southeast Michigan

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:09 PM EDT2014-07-29 01:09:28 GMT
    As of 9 p.m., DTE has restored power to 103,000 of the customers impacted by the high winds and lightning that hit southeast Michigan Sunday afternoon. Approximately 83,000 customers are out of power.
    As of 9 p.m., DTE has restored power to 103,000 of the customers impacted by the high winds and lightning that hit southeast Michigan Sunday afternoon. Approximately 83,000 customers are out of power.
  • Out and About: Goldfish Swim School

    Out and About: Goldfish Swim School

    Thursday, July 24 2014 12:49 PM EDT2014-07-24 16:49:09 GMT
    Fox 2's Jessica Starr took her son Noah out and about to check out the Goldfish Swim School.
    Fox 2's Jessica Starr took her son Noah out and about to check out the Goldfish Swim School.
Powered by WorldNow

FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
3213 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33609
Main: (813) 876-1313
Newsroom: (813) 870-9630
Fax: (813) 871-3135

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices