Flashes and streaks of lightning in the summer sky can be awe-inspiring. They're also signs to seek shelter as soon as possible.

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As frightening as it is spectacular, summer lightning is both a sight to behold and a force to avoid.
Lately, the force of nature seems to be making its own public safety announcements, with folks being caught off guard in shocking ways.

On Monday, a 27-year-old swim instructor in Florida was walking to work when lightning struck an antenna atop a pole that was 75 yards away from her. The effects of the indirect lightning strike were so serious that she was hospitalized. She said she felt the shock, describing as a burning sensation. A surveillance camera caught her stopping short as the strike occurs, then bolting toward the office door.

Days earlier, lightning struck J.P Nadeau in the middle of his speech at his daughter's wedding in New Brunswick, Canada. He survived, as well - but he told the CBC, "Everyone is amazed I'm alive." The bolt flashed right behind Nadeau, who was holding a microphone. It was visible to the reception guests, but not to him.

"The power went into the sound booth and came through the mic cord, and I was looking at my hand, and it lit up," he said. "My whole hand - it was like I had a bolt of lightning in my hand."

And on June 5, Nick Emanuel of Rochester, NY, was struck by while sitting inside the office of his auto shop after a bolt struck the sidewalk outside and the current continued into the shop, connecting with electrical wiring and making its way to Gemayel.

"My muscles stated contracting and tensing," Gemayel told CHEW in Rochester. "And very foggy thinking. I started to feel very strange. Then my hand started to blister. You just don't feel like yourself."

Severe weather documentarian and storm chaser Pecos Hank captures unusual lightning strikes and compiles them into videos, explaining the phenomena as the footage rolls. Here's a compilation of the most extreme strikes he's seen. Just hope you never cross paths with the likes of these bolts:


Ninety percent of people struck by lightning survive, but many of them aren't as lucky as these recent survivors. About 70 percent of them sustain long-term effects, and most of those neurological, such as memory loss and personality changes.

Lightning is the stuff of myth, and the NWS seeks to dispel a lot of it. You've heard that lightning never strikes the same place twice? Not true. Tall, pointy, isolated objects are frequently struck. On average, the Empire State Building is hit 23 times a year.

Another falsehood: You're safe from lightning if it's clear outside and not raining. Lightning tends to strike more than three miles from the center of a thunderstorm cloud, and rare "bolts from the blue," into an otherwise partly cloudy day can strike as far as 10 to 15 miles from the storm.

Some people believe finding shelter under a tree will protect them from lightning, but being underneath a tree is a leading cause of lightning casualties.

If you're inside a house, you're safe, right? That's true to some extent, but homes are full of stuff that conducts electricity. Stay off cordless phones and keep away from electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, and metal doors and windows.

For more lightning lore and a comprehensive guide to lightning safety, go to lightningsafety.noaa.gov.