Understanding lightning after the Lafayette Park murder drama

After last week’s fatal lightning strike in a park near the White House, OMCP spoke with a lightning expert about the power and danger of lightning strikes, and what to do do in case of a storm.

It’s the middle of summer storm season in the DC area, and storms often bring lightning with them.

After last week’s fatal lightning strike in a park near the White House, OMCP spoke with a lightning expert about the power and danger of lightning strikes, and what to do do in case of a storm.

“People can be injured or struck by lightning in many ways, if lightning strikes another object first,” Chris Vagasky, a meteorologist and member of the National Lightning Safety Council, told OMCP’s DMV Download podcast.

He said apart from a direct strike, people can be hit by a side flash, which means lightning strikes another object and electricity passes to a nearby person. Or people can be hit by the ground current, the electricity travels from the object that was hit into the ground and spreads to a larger area.



Authorities said the victims were huddled under a tree in the park, waiting for the storm to pass, when they were hit.

Vagasky said that during a storm the only safe places are in a closed car or in a “substantial” building.

“A significant building is something that has pipes and electricity in the wall,” Vagasky said.

“When you’re in one of these two safe places, electricity passes through the metal shell of the car or through wiring and piping in the ground, and it keeps you locked in and protects you,” a- he declared.

For people who are outside during a storm, he advises against crouching down to try and get as close to the ground as possible. Instead, run to the nearest building.

“As long as you keep moving towards that safe place and don’t get close to something that’s more likely to be struck by lightning, like a big tree or something, you can usually make progress. significant to be much safer.”

And while the odds of being struck by lightning are low, one in a million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vagasky said being outdoors during the storm increases the risk.

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