Deadly Weekend in India as Monsoon Season Brings Fatal Lightning Strikes

Posted: July 13, 2021 3:19 pm

Over 30 fatalities at the hands of lightning strikes were reported last week in India, highlighting the importance of lightning safety when severe weather moves in.

Lightning Leads to Deadly Weekend

As the monsoon season in India fires up, so does the prevalence of lightning strikes. More than three dozen deadly strikes were reported within a span of 24 hours in the country. 11 of these fatalities happened in one location in the state of Rajasthan. The incident occurred when a bolt of lightning struck a popular watchtower at Amber Fort in Jaipur.

Rajasthan was also the location of nine additional deaths, bringing the total to 20 in the region in one day alone.

Over in the state of Uttar Pradesh, officials estimate that at least 18 people were killed by lightning, also last Sunday. Many of the deaths happened when unprotected swaths of land were struck by lightning, killing the farm laborers out in the fields.

India Monsoon Season

India’s monsoon season generally runs from June through September. During this time period, the majority of the nation sees the bulk of its annual precipitation. The moisture typically spreads from the southeast to the northwest. The heaviest hit locations, including the populated city of Mumbai, average as much as 87 inches of rainfall over the season.

Along with the heavy rain comes an elevated risk of lightning strikes. While the dozens of deaths in one day is certainly an anomaly, the monsoon season is known for its high frequency of lightning events.

What to Do to Guard Yourself Against Lightning

Although India averages far more lightning deaths than the US on an annual basis, there are still approximately 25 Americans killed every year in this manner. Hundreds more are injured as a result of lightning strikes.

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In order to protect yourself against lightning strikes, it is important to understand where the biggest risks lie when severe weather is in your area and what to do if lightning is around.

Here are three of the cardinal rules of lightning safety.

  • When it Roars, Go Indoors – The number one piece of advice to remember is to head inside when you hear thunder. If there is thunder in the area, you need to head to a safe and enclosed shelter. If you are not home, seek out a business or other space that will offer protection from the severe weather. When you hear thunder or spot lightning, you should temporarily halt all outdoor activities for at least 30 minutes after the last roar of thunder.
  • Be Aware of the Risks of Outdoor Recreational Activities – The majority of lightning strike fatalities happen when people are participating in outdoor recreational activities. Fishing has proven to be the most dangerous activity when lightning is in the area, being blamed for four times as many fatalities as the next most threatening activity of golf. Other outdoor activities that raise the risk of encountering lightning include camping and boating.

    People tend to let down their guard when they are busy enjoying themselves outdoors. This makes them more vulnerable to making poor decisions when lightning is in the area. It is always a good idea to check the weather forecast before heading out for a day spent in the great outdoors, especially if you know rain is possible.
  • Staying Safe Indoors – Many people erroneously believe that they are safe from lightning strikes even when indoors. The truth is that lightning can find its way inside through the wiring or plumbing. This is why experts recommend avoiding using anything that plugs into the wall when lightning is in the area. This includes using a hairdryer, an iron, and corded phones. You should also take care to stay away from doors and windows that include metal connections that lead outside.

Following these safety tips might have saved some of the tragic losses suffered in India last week. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with basic lightning safety recommendations can go a long way in protecting yourself and your family when severe weather is in the area.