Saturday, July 28, 2007

Extreme Lightning

They say that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. But what if it strikes so often in the same region that it becomes regarded, not as an impressive light show, but as a major seasonal threat to life and limb?

Living here on the northern California coast, where lightning strikes are rare as hens' teeth, we can't appreciate the danger posed in areas where bolts are going off like popcorn in the microwave.

This year so far, 403 people have been killed by lightning strikes in China - as many as were killed all last year. The Reuters story reports that the China Meteorological Administration attributes other damages to storm-generated strikes.

The administration attributed the higher rate of deaths to more frequent and severe lightning storms, Xinhua news agency reported late on Friday.

Lightning storms caused 2,525 accidents between January and June, of which 52 involved fires, causing more than 80 million yuan ($10.6 million) in direct economic losses, the administration said.

Chinese scientists have warned that global warming is likely to intensify extreme weather patterns, and severe storms in recent years may be a prelude to this.

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