GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — March 20 through March 26 is Severe Weather Awareness Week. On Monday, Storm Team 8 is looking at lighting.

Thunderstorms are becoming more common in West Michigan as the temperature warms.

Michigan ranks in the top 20 states for lightning fatalities. Places like Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Colorado rank in the top ten.

It is general knowledge to stay inside during a thunderstorm. It is the simplest way to stay safe.

Here are some key lightning facts to live by:

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning
  • Pavilions are just as dangerous as being outside during a thunderstorm
  • Lightning can strike up to 10 miles, or seemingly “out of the blue”
  • Lightning tends to strike the tallest object
  • Rubber will not keep you safe during a thunderstorm
  • A car with a metal roof will keep you safe during a thunderstorm

Water and metal are good conductors of electricity. It is important to get out of water completely and to avoid metal objects when a thunderstorm strikes. Remember, even being nearby a metal object can be a problem. Some lightning injuries or fatalities happen when lightning strikes a metal object and then jumps to a person nearby. This is called an indirect strike.

Lightning often strikes the tallest objects in a given area. Avoid being on a hill or ridge, and avoid wide open spaces. Never hide under a tree during a thunderstorm. Trees often heat, and explode when struck by lighting.

Michigan averages around 30 thunderstorm days per year. Be sure to have a way to get weather alerts if you are spending considerable time outdoors and check in with Storm Team 8 to know the days thunderstorms are most likely to form.