Why sporting events must delay play due to lightning

Weather

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In 2020, 17 people were killed by lightning strikes and so far this year, that number is 10, according to the National Weather Service.

That may seem like a small number, but not counting deaths, nearly 250 people every year are injured in some way due to lightning.

Over the last 60 years, North Carolina has recorded more than 200 lightning-related deaths, ranking third in the country for those fatalities – only behind Florida and Texas.

Most of those deaths are from people just trying to enjoy time outside, but a majority are also from people playing sports.

Whether it’s soccer, football, or golf, if you are outside with a storm nearby, you are in danger, so paying attention to the weather is critical.

It’s the cliche rhyme you hear us say all the time: “when thunder roars, go indoors.”

The reason we say it, however, is because in general, if you can hear thunder, the storm is close enough that you can get struck by lightning since lightning can strike more than 10 miles outside the parent thunderstorm, even when it’s sunny.

When this happens, it’s called a bolt from the blue.

The rule of thumb for sporting events, and what happened Sunday night in Kansas City, is to wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike before resuming the game.

If you are caught outside for any reason during a storm, find an enclosed building, or a car with the windows rolled up. Never take shelter under a tree, because if the tree gets struck by lightning the current can jump to you if you’re standing too close, or even travel through the ground.

These are some of the most common ways people get struck by lightning.

The bottom line is we know it’s frustrating when your sporting event is delayed due to lightning, but it’s a lot easier to enjoy the game when you’re not in the hospital recovering from a strike, or worse.

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