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Tag Archive | "AccuWeather"

How a single lightning strike can claim many lives

From AccuWeather

AccuWeather reports a lightning strike killed at least 16 people and injured approximately 140 others in Rwanda on Saturday, March 10. The bolt struck the Seventh Day Adventist church in the country’s south, said a provincial governor.

Cases in which lightning causes multiple fatalities can occur when lightning either strikes the ground or an object on the ground, such as a tree. The energy from that lightning strike radiates outward along the ground.

Therefore, anyone in the immediate vicinity of that lightning strike may be killed or injured by the lightning, according to National Weather Service (NWS) Lightning Safety Specialist John Jensenius.

“It’s not all that frequent in the United States. However, in Africa, it’s actually quite common because many areas don’t have adequate protection,” Jensenius said.

Lightning strikes are frequent across Rwanda. The country’s police record a number of human and livestock deaths each year.

The number of fatalities in the recent Rwanda incident was unusual but not unprecedented, according to Jensenius.

In June 2011, a lightning strike killed 19 children at a school in Uganda, according to Mail & Guardian.

“Children were on a dirt floor and the lightning spread across the floor. It killed a number of children and also the teacher,” Jensenius said.

In the U.S., events of this nature are less common because the homes and buildings have wiring and plumbing in them. Therefore, if lightning strikes a home or a building, it will follow the wiring or plumbing to the ground, according to Jensenius.

“In Uganda and some of the other African countries, many people live in huts or homes that don’t have any wiring or plumbing. So if lightning strikes those homes, it doesn’t have a path to follow to the ground,” Jensenius said.

While these events are rare in the U.S., there is a possibility of it happening if proper lightning safety precautions are not followed. For example, in events where people gather in unsafe structures, such as in an outdoor tent for a wedding or a reunion.

“There is a possibility that if lightning were to strike the tent or nearby, there could be a large number of people killed or seriously injured by a lightning strike,” Jensenius said.

While it is a concern in the U.S., the likelihood of that happening is rare because there are often safe buildings nearby so most people are inside where it is safe.

“If you’re outside at some kind of outdoor event, just simply go in your car and stay there for at least 30 minutes after the last clasp of thunder,” Jensenius said.

The best way to avoid these deadly events is to go inside a substantial, safe building during a storm.

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AccuWeather says cost of Harvey, Irma to be $290 billion

It has been a destructive and costly hurricane season, following the historic impacts from Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma.

This is the first time in the history of record keeping that two Category 4 or higher hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have struck the U.S. mainland in the same year.

“That is extraordinary by itself,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder, president and chairman, said Monday.

“And also unprecedented is that this particular storm, Irma, has sustained intensity for the longest period of time of any hurricane or typhoon in any ocean of the world since the satellite era began,” Myers said.

Irma has great staying power, and it is a unique storm. It had a brush with several islands in the Caribbean and ran on land in Cuba. It then hugged the Florida coast as a major hurricane.

“The storm is not only intense, it is also very large. The area affected by the strong winds along the west coast near the center of the storm will barrel along and hug the coast closely heading due north, and will bring winds gusts of well over 100 mph and conceivably over 125 mph,” Myers predicted earlier this week.

These types of storms cause extremely hazardous conditions, including flying objects, fallen trees, downed power lines, which carry the potential for electrocution, broken window glass on homes and cars and damage to roofs and other structures. Storm surge was another major threat.

Hurricane Irma caused damage from wind, flooding from heavy rain and damage from the sea in different places in Florida.

While the storm weakened as it pushed through the state, heavy rainfall over North and Central Florida from Hurricane Irma swelled 23 rivers and creeks to beyond flood stage Wednesday, threatening homes along their banks and potentially forcing a massive re-routing of drivers along I-75, according to the Miami Herald.

“We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion, among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion,” Myers said.

“We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion or one full percentage point of the GDP. Together, AccuWeather predicts these two disasters amount to 1.5 of a percentage point of the GDP, which will about equal and therefore counter the natural growth of the economy for the period of mid-August through the end of the fourth quarter,” Myers added.

  • Economic costs are incurred by, but not limited to, the following:
  • Disruptions to businesses
  • Increased unemployment rates for weeks, and possibly months in some places
  • Damage to transportation, infrastructure
  • Crop loss, including cotton crop and 25 percent of orange crop, which will impact the cost of consumables for all Americans
  • Increased gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel prices impacting all Americans
  • Damage to homes, cars, furniture, antiques, jewelry and other valuables
  • Loss of valuable papers, cherished belongings such as photos

“Some of the losses will be covered by insurance, some will not, so the losses will be felt in a variety of ways by millions of people. Many millions of people have already been evacuated, so their lives have already been affected and they have incurred costs of one sort or another,” Myers said.

“AccuWeather takes our responsibility of providing the most accurate forecasts and warnings and the impact on people and business very seriously. This is a solemn responsibility that we have and our people are working extremely hard and with great intensity to make sure that all the people we reach can depend on our info for the utmost in reliability so they can make the right decisions during these stressful times.”

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