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John Wheeler: Lightning is underrated as a killer

The National Weather Service does not put out warnings for lightning, because then every thunderstorm would require a warning.

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FARGO โ€” One of the most dangerous elements of a thunderstorm is the lightning. The National Weather Service does not put out warnings for lightning, because then every thunderstorm would require a warning. Usually, when lightning is frequent, most people have already taken shelter from the storm because of rain, wind, or other storm elements.

Most human lightning injuries and deaths do not happen at the height of a storm, but as it is just beginning or after it has appeared to have mostly moved on. Lightning can strike from a cloud miles away, so it is important to get to shelter as soon as lightning is seen or thunder heard. Around 80% of lightning deaths are men, mostly who are working on heavy machinery or farm equipment. Other leading situations include people in boats and golfers. Hand-held, battery-operated lightning detection devices are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at electronics stores locally or over the internet.

John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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