If you didn’t know it yet, more men get struck by lightning than women, but why are men more likely to be struck by lightning?
It’s mostly a case of the character and thinking of the average man.
It is important to know what lightning is and how and when it occurs, to bring yourself in safety when it is needed, to avoid getting stuck by the glowing hot bolts.
Learn more about thunder and lightning in this article.
Because the electric charge between the ground and thundercloud can differ, lightning occurs. A positively charged lightning bolt that connects the cloud with the ground is the most dangerous. It’s important to seek shelter when a thunderstorm hits.
Generally, men take more risks, resulting in a higher chance of getting struck by lightning.
A lightning bolt is essentially a medium of energy transport between two places. It is an electric discharge between two differently charged places inside the cloud or between the cloud and the ground.
We will identify these factors more specifically in the next section.
Lightning bolts can get very hot. Temperatures of 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (28,000°C) aren’t uncommon.
To put this into perspective, that is more than five times as warm as the surface of the sun.
The reason for lightning getting this hot, are the millions of electric ions traveling through one relatively small channel of air.
As said before, a lightning bolt occurs between two differently charges areas. This is mostly because the friction between and inside clouds creates differently charged areas.
These areas can be inside a cloud, but it can also be between different clouds, between the ground and a cloud, and on rare occasions also between a clear patch of sky and the cloud.
Nature strives for a world without differences in charge. So, when the difference in charge between two places gets too big, nature resolves it by evening the charges out with lightning.
A channel of electric current is formed between those two areas. Lighting is a hot channel of electric current resolving differences in charge between two places.
We make a distinction between lightning based on their place of origin and their place of arrival.
These are the three main types of lightning:
- CC (cloud to cloud)
- IC (intracloud)
- CG (cloud to ground)
The names are pretty self-explanatory. The cloud to cloud type is a lightning bolt that discharges between two differently charged clouds.
The differences between CC and IC are small and often not noticeable. Intracloud lightning is lightning inside the same cloud.
The last type and the most dangerous one for human beings are the CG or cloud to ground lightning bolt. This one will be very important to determine the chances of getting struck by lightning.
There are three types of lightning, with the CG (cloud to ground) type being the most dangerous
Besides the distinction between the type of lighting based on the origin and destination, we can distinguish lightning based on the type of charge too.
The distinction between positive and negative lightning can only be made for cloud-to-ground (CG) bolts.
When the charge in the clouds is negative relative to the charge at the ground, the resulting bolt would be called a negative cloud to ground strike (CG-).
About 95% of all lightning strikes are negatively charged. They can be recognized by their branchy structure. They can also flicker multiple times.
The positive CG lightning (CG+) occurs when the opposite is true. A positively charged cloud in comparison to the ground.
These less often occurring bolts are most of the time much more powerful than negative lightning. And they can travel much further, up to 25 miles (40km) from a thunderstorm.
They appear as a relatively straight channel, without branches and do not flicker. Positive lightning is the most dangerous type.
Positive lightning occurs when the cloud is positively charged, relative to the ground. They occur less often but are more dangerous.
When the air heats up quickly because of a lightning bolt, the air around the bolt expands quickly. This essentially creates sound waves.
These waves travel with the speed of sound away from the strike. When the sound waves reach your destination, it comes over to you like a loud roar.
The further away you are from the lightning bolt, the quieter the thunder will generally be.
But that isn’t always the case, since the powerfulness of lightning bolts can alter the volume. Positive lightning bolts generate shorter and louder sounds than negative ones.
Because we know the speed of sound, we can calculate the distance that a lightning bolt occurred from your location. Sound waves travel at a little over 1000ft/s (about 300m/s).
So, if you want to gauge the distance between a storm and yourself, you count the seconds, you can divide them by 5 to get the approximate distance in miles or divide them by 3 to get it in kilometers.
Thunder is the sound created by the expansion of air around a lightning bolt, it can be used to estimate the distance between you and the storm.
Thunderstorms do not occur everywhere as much. There are two main ingredients to form thunderstorms:
Thunderstorms are thus most common in moist and warm areas. In summer the chance of thunderstorms grows in the northern hemisphere due to the temperature increase. The opposite is true for the southern hemisphere.
Most thunderstorms occur in the afternoon and evening. In the afternoon the temperatures are the highest and the energy is the greatest, so thunderstorms form.
They can survive into the evening and night if the wind conditions in the higher troposphere are correct.
To estimate the chances of getting struck by lightning, we will need to take a look at why lightning is so dangerous.
As stated before, lightning bolts are very hot. Furthermore, they carry exceptionally high rates of voltage and current.
If a lightning bolt struck your body, you will not only be fried alive but also severely electrocuted. Even though this sounds terrifying, only 10% of people that get struck by lightning, die, in the USA. Partially because healthcare has become much better.
Another factor that makes lightning is unpredictability. We can’t forecast where lightning will strike exactly. Furthermore, even the thunderstorms where lightning originates from can’t be exactly forecasted.
The sheer power of lightning in combination with the unpredictability explains the danger of lightning.
It’s a fact that over the last decades, more men have been struck by lightning than women.
But why are men more likely to be struck by lightning than women? The answer is to be found in the brain of an average male.
About 80% of all lightning-related deaths since 1980 in the USA account for males. Generally speaking, males tend to take more risks than women.
Men are less likely to search for safety when hit by a sudden thunderstorm. Most deaths by lighting occur when performing a sport or when fishing.
Generally speaking, men take more risks than women, resulting in more males getting hit by lightning.
The first thing to do, to prevent getting hit by lightning is by following the daily weather forecasts for your location daily.
When thunderstorms are forecasted, don’t choose to do outdoor activities in the afternoon far from the habited world.
During the day, you can follow up a radar app of your choosing, checking in to see if thunderstorms have developed yet.
But, take note that thunderstorms can develop and change in size and strength quickly, so the precision of the radar images can be wrong.
If the situation is getting suspicious on the app or in the skies or if you see lightning or hear thunder, seek safety indoors.
When you do find yourself in the middle of a thunderstorm with no buildings to seek shelter in the near vicinity, stay away from tall objects. If you’re in an open space, stay clear of the trees and get low to the ground.
Seek safety by staying up to date with weather previsions. If a thunderstorm does hit, seek shelter or stay close to the ground and away from tall objects.
Lightning forms because of differences in charge between the ground and the thunderclouds. The most dangerous type of lightning is CG+, positive cloud to ground lightning. To avoid getting struck by lightning, seek shelter when a thunderstorm hits.
More men die of lightning because they take more risks.
Even though the physics and meteorology behind lightning, thunder and thunderstorms, in general, are pretty complicated, the sole reason that men die more often of a lighting strike than women is because of the risk they generally take.