Dangerous lightning can be a fire starter - New York 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.

  • WEATHER: Humidity levels to fall Tuesday night

    WEATHER: Humidity levels to fall Tuesday night

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:02:51 GMT

    Rich Luterman says to expect humidity levels to fall before heading into a pleasant Wednesday.

    Rich Luterman says to expect humidity levels to fall before heading into a pleasant Wednesday.
  • The Flood of 2014: Fox 2 viewer photo and video gallery

    The Flood of 2014: Fox 2 viewer photo and video gallery

    Tuesday, August 12 2014 4:59 PM EDT2014-08-12 20:59:40 GMT
    Heavy rain in record amounts across southeastern Michigan on Monday night left many roads impassable. Fox 2 viewers sent in hundreds of photos and several videos to demonstrate with full clarity just how crazy was out there.
    Heavy rain in record amounts across southeastern Michigan on Monday night left many roads impassable. Fox 2 viewers sent in hundreds of photos and several videos to demonstrate with full clarity just how crazy was out there.
  • Made in Michigan: Spbang snack bags

    Made in Michigan: Spbang snack bags

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 12:58 PM EDT2014-08-27 16:58:36 GMT
    Spbang is a reusable snack bag created by Sherri French.
    Spbang is a reusable snack bag created by Sherri French.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices