Texas leads the U.S. in lightning events at over 42 million alone in 2023.

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In 2023, there have been a grand total of 13 deaths in the U.S., 2 of such deaths occurring in Texas. Tragically, a father and his 6-year-old son were killed by the strike in Temple, TX last year.

The father had just picked his son up from the bus stop when he was struck by the lightning bolt which passed through him, taking the current down his own arm and through his son's. The father died on the spot, and his son passed shortly after in the hospital.

So, how does lightning happen to hit people minding their own business at a bus stop? Well...

Science lesson!

Negatively-charged electrons that gather in storm clouds will form "channels" that zigzag down towards the ground. Then, sparks with positive charge start to form beneath said channel, about 100 yards from the ground. Usually, this occurs with tall structures like trees or skyscrapers, but it can happen on flat fields as well. Once one spark comes in contact with one of those negative electrons, BOOOOOOM!

With a bolt that heats up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, five times hotter than the surface of sun, the air surrounding this reaction literally explodes. This can be heard up to 25 miles away.

Because sound travels shamefully slower than light, we can figure out how far away a lightning strike is from our location.

I'm sure you've heard, as a kid, that you count the seconds between the flash and the boom in order to see how many miles away the strike was. That actually does work... to an extent. You see, you still will need to divide the number of seconds by five, since sound travels about a fifth of a mile each second.

So although it's very rare, lightning can kill and has killed Americans every year, especially in Texas. As cool as nature is, it sure can be deadly...

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