Knowing how far away a lightning strike is and whether it is coming
toward you or drifting away can be an important tool in keeping you, your
family, and your unit safe. You don’t have to be a meteorologist to figure it
out, either—you just need page 352 of the new Boy Scout Handbook. And knowing how to count helps, too.
When you see lightning, start counting: one-thousand-one,
one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three, and so on. Stop once you’ve heard
thunder. Sound travels a mile every five seconds, approximately. So if you’ve
gotten to one-thousand-five in your count, the lightning strike was a mile away.
Many scientists say that if lightning is closer than three
miles away, the danger is imminent. In fact, any time you can hear thunder you could be in striking distance of lightning. Thirty-one people have died in 2009
because of lightning strikes, so don’t take this warning lightly. Seek shelter
immediately in a permanent building if the storm is nearby.
For more information on lightning safety and awareness,
check out this site from the National Weather Service.
Update: We've corrected some of the numbers and information in this story. Thanks to Rob and Marc for pointing out the previous inaccuracies.