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Mississippi Among Worst in Nation for Lightning Fatalities

By Daniel Cherry | Published 24 Jun 2011 09:20am | comments
(Credit: NOAA)

Lightning is one of the top weather related causes of death in the U.S. and since 1950 Mississippi ranks 6th in the number lightning fatalities. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports officials are urging citizens to use precautions when it comes to lightning. 

Diane Coates vividly remembers last summer's fatal storm.

"It was one of those hot summer cluster thunderstorms that happened very quickly."

Coates is an EMT. She got a call that day about people hit by lightning.

"There were some individuals that were out near a body of water, just in a corn field. The storm happened. Actually, the sun was shining in one part of the area, and then the storm happened suddenly and there was very heavy lightning."

Three people were struck by the lightning bolt, and one teenager died from his injuries. Weather experts are trying to keep this scene from being repeated by getting out the word on safety. Joanne Culin is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson. She says they're expecting more dangerous lightning in the coming months.

"Lightning is a very underrated killer. We get lightning with virtually any thunderstorm, and in the summer months people are outside doing activities, going to the beach, and maybe not paying enough attention to the weather. Storms pop up very, very quickly."

Culin says residents should seek shelter indoors whenever possible. People who take shelter under a tree or are playing sports when a storm is approaching are especially at risk of being struck. Jim Pollard with American Medical Response says the effects are too harsh not to take extra precautions.

"The individual may have trouble with memory, concentration, personality changes, joint pain, headaches, fatigue, sleeplessness. There's so much at risk when you're outdoors, and if you hear thunder, then you're at risk."

Five people have already died nationwide this month from lightning.

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(Credit: NOAA)


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