AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Lightning is one of the leading causes of weather deaths across the country. In Georgia, 30 people have died from lightning between 1995 and 2016.
Lightning is a release of energy between positive and negative charges between the Earth and a thunderstorm that balances those charges. A single lightning bolt can be as hot as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the surface of the sun. The clap of thunder after a lightning strike is a shock wave created by the rapid heating and cooling of the air. Most lightning deaths happen when people are outside.
"People really do need to pay attention to lighting, especially when they're playing sports and you've seen a lot of games now actually being called for lightning," said Andy Leanza, Columbia County Emergency Management Agency director.
The National Weather Service wants you to remember a simple phrase: when thunder roars, go indoors. If you're hearing thunder, you're already at risk.
If you're outside, get into a sturdy building with 4 enclosed walls. An overhang or awning will not protect you. If you're out on the road, you're generally safe as long as you stay inside the car with the windows up. Never take a shower or bath during a storm.
"If you see lightning, it's 30 minutes," said Leanza. "Lightning can strike up to 5 miles from the storm."
Always remember to wait 30 minutes after you last see lightning or hear thunder before going back outside.