PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It can be extremely dangerous to anyone caught outside in a severe thunderstorm.

“If there’s a thunderstorm, you can bet there will also be lightning. But predicting when or where lightning will strike is nearly impossible… That makes lightning one of the biggest risks to both people and property,” explains Meteorologist Matt Peterson.”

These giant sparks in the sky develop when ice crystals rub against each other.

This rubbing causes charges to form inside a thunderstorm cloud, energizing the cloud and atmosphere much like a battery.

Then, energy is released in a variety of ways.

John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist at the National Weather Service, further explains how this phenomenon works,  “Most of the lightning you see is between the negative charge in the central part of the storm and the positively charged ground, but we also get lightning from the top of the storm, from those positive charges near the top and that lightning can extend outward from the storm as much as ten miles or possibly even more.

You may have heard that lightning is attracted to taller objects like trees and buildings but in fact, the bolts flash down from the sky blindly.

They can strike anywhere and anything.

There are about 25 million lightning strikes each year in the United States. Each bolt travels at an astounding 200 million miles per hour with a temperature of 50,000° Farenheit.

If a person is hit by lightning, it could stop their heart but that’s not the only concern.

“Part of that may be the loss of oxygen to the brain if the heart does stop, but they have problems with mental functions, remembering things, trying to figure out things, their brain just doesn’t function the way it normally does. If you think about a computer that is struck by lightning, it may not be completely dead but it doesn’t have all the connections that it used to,” says Jensenius.

True or false: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground?

It’s actually false!

Most cars are safe from lightning, but the current travels through the car’s metal frame into the ground, and that’s what protects you, not the rubber tires!

So make sure you don’t lean on the car doors during a storm!3851404

You know the saying “When thunder roars head indoors”.

It could save your life.

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