Bluwave Boat Rental: Why are lighting strike fatalities so high in the area? First, our quick weather lesson… Thunderstorms produce lightning. Thunderstorms are generally large cumulous cloud formations formed when warm humid air moves upward into cooler air, condensing and creating updrafts that grow the cloud quickly and becomes full of vapor that when cools becomes rain. The rain is often sucked back up into the clouds by the strong updrafts and creates heavy moisture that when it eventually is heavy enough will come pouring out of the storm in heavy downpours. The updrafts can continue to re-fill the clouds with moist air and the storm grows and moves across the surface of the land. Static electricity from the rain falling and the winds of the updrafts create electrical current that when is built up enough will discharge as bolts of lightning. The sound produced by that electricity piercing the atmosphere is thunder.
With warm waters on both sides of the Florida peninsula and air currents affected by the sea breeze on either side, Florida is a prime development area for thunderstorms in the summer. As warm humid air clashes with sea breezes over land, the cumulous clouds begin to form. If there is enough moisture and warm enough temperatures, the clouds will develop into thunderstorms capable of producing lightning.
Most tragic lightning deaths and injuries occur related to fishing. If a person is on a boat in the water when storms are approaching, they should get away and take cover immediately. It takes time to get off the water and to safety, many boaters simply wait too long to get in before the storm is on them. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the storm, so plenty of distance is needed. Weather is one of the most important things the captain, licensed or not, must keep an eye on while boating in Florida.
One story of a couple of guys in the Tampa area that were struck by lightning on a boat ended without fatality, the lightning entered the side of the boat, struck the man’s leg and went up into his body. After being in the hospital, he did survive to fish again. Not all are so fortunate; there are more recorded deaths in the Tampa area than anywhere else in the US, not sure about the World.
If you are in Florida, you will hear it preached everywhere to get inside anytime there is lightning in the area, no matter what! This awareness campaign is credited as one of the reasons lightning fatalities and injuries is receding. You won’ t see local people taking chances when lightning is in the area, they know better and this is one time to listen to the locals!