It's finally summer, so don't be surprised if you get caught in an unexpected rain shower accompanied by lightning and thunder.
In the northern hemisphere, most lightning occurs in the summer months. It's also the time of year when the most deaths by lightning occur.
Lightning is created when positive and negative charges bump up against one another inside clouds and discharge their electricity. Ever pulled off a freshly-dried sweater and felt your skin crackle underneath? Same idea. Contrary to popular belief, lightning can strike the same place twice, especially tall buildings. The myth that a lightning strike permanently changes the electric charge of the ground where it hits, making it immune to further strikes, is bucked by places like the Torre Ciudadana in Monterrey, Mexico that's been hit plenty of times.
When it hits, lightning can get up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning the immediate heat of these strikes was pretty toasty. All that heat points to the fact that lightning is powerful: The energy in a single bolt would be enough to power a 60-watt light bulb for 6 months. So what makes summer the best time for lightning? Warmer air holds more water, meaning there's more electrical instability in the clouds.
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Because lightning travels the shortest path to the ground, it's better to stay away from trees, which are more likely to be electrocuted than an open field. While it often coincides with a sky full of ominous clouds, lightning can also strike in relatively clear skies — even as far away as 10 miles from the center of a storm.
While scary, the odds of being struck by lightning in the US — even at a baseball game at Turner Field in Atlanta during a June 2015 baseball game where this picture was taken —are very low. In any one year, the average American has a one in a million chance of getting struck. In comparison, you're actually more likely to be killed by a mosquito-transmitted infection.