Experts Give Tips On Staying Safe In A Lightning Storm

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After two men are killed by a lightning strike here in Houston, experts are warning people to be careful when summer storms roll in.

The two men were killed Sunday at a north Houston soccer field, another was hurt, when they took refuge under a tree during a fast-moving thunderstorm. 

"There are not many places, if you're outside, that are really safe."

Meteorologist Gene Hafele, with the Houston-Galveston office of the National Weather Service, says if a storm hits and you're caught outside, the best option is to run to the nearest building or get in a car. Standing under a tree could be dangerous.

"Lightning likes to look at the shortest distance between the cloud and the ground.  That's where it can make that connection, that electrical connection, to the top of the tree." 

Hafele says crouching down in a low spot may not be that much of a help, since lightning can travel through the ground after it's channeled through a tall object. And even if a thunderstorm appears to be in the distance, Hafele says lightning can strike up to ten miles away from the storm system.

"We have a little saying that says, when thunder roars, go indoors."

Sunday's fatalities bring to three the number of people killed by lightning this summer in the Houston area. A utility repairman was killed last month when he was hit by lightning in a field in north Harris County.

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...