Lightning Strikes Three Times Average Through May
The National Weather Service reports an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes each year.
Lightning, and the storms that accompany it, also poses a threat to electric facilities and a very real danger to people.
Thus far in 2006, Progress Energy's Carolinas service area has experienced nearly three times the average number of lightning strikes. And with the corresponding wind and storms, the effect has been more power outages.
Summer marks the height of lightning season. That's why the National Weather Service has declared this week Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Progress Energy is encouraging customers to learn about the dangers of lightning and take action to protect lives and expensive household appliances and electronics.
While every lightning strike does not hit Progress Energy wires, poles and equipment, there is a direct correlation between lightning and power reliability. Not only does lightning cause voltage sags and momentary interruptions, but the accompanying high winds frequently cause trees and limbs to come in contact with the lines, often resulting in outages -- sometimes for extended periods.
"We understand the impact to homes and businesses these events cause, and will continue to work on providing the highest power reliability possible," said Lee Mazzocchi, Progress Energy Carolinas' vice president for Distribution, the work group that maintains tens of thousands of miles of power lines in Progress Energy Carolinas' 34,000-square-mile service area. "While we can't control Mother Nature, we are doing more and more to minimize the impact of storms on customers by continuing to respond quickly to outages and by maintaining trees near power lines and doing proactive maintenance on distribution facilities, including the use of infrared thermography and other technology and practices to replace equipment before it fails."
Not only is lightning powerful, it's unpredictable, so homeowners who think they can protect their appliances and electronics simply by unplugging them when not in use are mistaken. If you hear thunder, it may be too late. Lightning can -- and does -- strike homes from miles away without any warning at all.
Applying staged, or layered, surge protection by equipping a home with devices at the outside meter and inside outlets can help to protect sensitive electronics and household appliances. Progress Energy offers two-stage Surge Protection Service to help protect from lightning strikes with both meter-based and premium plug-in devices. Learn more at endzaps.com or by calling toll-free (866) END-ZAPS.
Meanwhile, when storms threaten, get to a safe place and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity. Here are a few other safety tips for storm and lightning season:
-- Monitor local weather conditions regularly with a special weather radio or AM/FM radio.
-- Stay indoors in an inside room away from doors and windows and electrical outlets.
-- Recognize the signs of an oncoming thunder and lightning storm -- towering clouds with a "cauliflower" shape, dark skies and distant rumbles of thunder or flashes of lightning. Do not wait for lightning to strike nearby before taking cover.
-- If you are swimming, fishing or boating and there are clouds, dark skies and distant rumbles of thunder or flashes of lightning, get to land immediately and seek shelter.
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