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NWS promotes weather awareness about dangers of lightning

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Lightning has been one of the most obvious by-products of much of the severe weather that's blown through our area lately. While it may be amazing to watch, it can also be lethal.

With around 100 strikes of lightning on earth every second, it's only a matter of time, before one hits something it shouldn't.

"Two mornings ago, we had a lightning strike out on the concrete in front of the terminal building," said Pat Rhodes, Director of Aviation for Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. "It shorted out about 3,000 feet of lights."

On top of the outage, when lightning is within five miles of the airport, routine protocol calls for crews to stop fueling, loading or unloading baggage, or towing planes.

"There's a beacon that starts rotating on the ramp and alarm that's pretty hard to miss," said Rhodes.

But lightning is more than a frustrating hindrance, it can also be deadly.

"It actually kills more than flash flooding or tornadoes," explained Jose Garcia, Meteorologist in Charge for the National Weather Service (NWS). "There's not a lot of warning and I think that's probably why people don't pay as much attention to lightning, because we don't issue warnings for it."

Official warning or not, be wary if you hear thunder because lightning always accompanies it. Garcia said it's best to stay inside or get in your car.  A common misconception about protecting yourself from lightning when you're outside is to stand under a tall tree, but really what you need to do is get away from any tall objects and get as low to the ground as your possibly can.  But one of the best things you can do is simply, stay prepared.

"There are certain apps that you can subscribe to that will give you alerts and alarms that will tell if you lightning is in the area," said Garcia. "Those are great because they give you a little bit more awareness."

When it comes to using a severe weather app, especially for locating lightning, they're not always 100 percent accurate because of the static electricity in the air. Some of the information can be helpful, Garcia said, but you shouldn't rely on apps alone for your weather information.

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