Updated: Monday, 20 Apr 2009, 9:20 AM EDT
Published : Friday, 26 Apr 2002, 9:47 AM EST
Lightning is by far the most unpredictable--and most dangerous--severe weather phenomenon. More people die of lightning each year than tornados or hurricanes combined. But some people do live to tell their story and teach the rest of us that lightning is nothing to take for granted.
"All of a sudden I got a big jolt. You could see the lightning juice come out the tips of my fingers. It picked me up and I landed on the ladder," says Lester Jorgensen. He is one of the lucky few who've lived to warn others about the dangers of lightning. Four years ago, while standing on an aluminum ladder, Lester was struck by lightning.
Most amazing was the distance between Lester and the storm. "The storm was way off, probably 6 to 8 miles or more to the west. We didn't think that storm would ever materialize so I kept working," remembers Jorgensen. He never lost consciousness and suffered no visible signs he'd been struck by lightning.
It wasn't until later he started having problems with his kidneys--and later his heart and liver. He developed dizzy spells and then seizures all because of the lightning. â€œI do have difficulties. It's hard to pinpoint but they say it can happen through this lightning." Disabled, and unable to work even around the house for any length of time, Lester often wonders what his life could have been.
If there is a happier side to this story it's Lester's wish to save others from suffering his fate. He warns against â€œwatching the storm roll in". "That's the main thing people need to get out of all the things said by meteorologists and that's to protect themselves. Stay out of the way of the storms," says Jorgensen.
Lightning can strike up to ten miles from a storm. That's why
it's called a "bolt from the blue." Here are some rules to
- If you can hear thunder you're close enough to the storm to be stuck by lightning.
- Get inside a sturdy building.
- Stay away from windows and don't use the telephone.
- Stay indoors at least 30 minutes after the storm has passed.