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August 1st, 2012

This Week in Orange County 8-1-12

Orange County Executive Edward Diana
It’s certainly been a year of weather extremes. In just a few weeks, we’ll be approaching the one year anniversary of the Virginia earthquake that even rocked buildings right here in Orange County. That will be quickly followed by the anniversary of the arrival of Hurricane Irene and then Tropical Storm Lee right on her heels - two storms from which we are still feeling the effects. And let’s not forget the very unseasonable Halloween 2011 blizzard.

More recently, we’ve been coping with extreme high temperatures, and now, after a stretch with nearly no rain at all and the threat of drought upon us, it seems that the time for thunderstorms is upon us. Summer is peak season for thunderstorms and with the thunder comes one of the deadliest weather phenomena - lightning.

According to the National Weather Service, an average of 54 people are killed by lightning each year and hundreds are permanently injured. To help people understand the serious nature of thunderstorms, the National Weather Service is communicating a very clear and simple message, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors – Stop All Activities.”

Orange County Commissioner of Emergency Services Walter Koury urges Orange County residents to stay alert to changing weather conditions, especially when they’re spending time out of doors. Commissioner Koury says that if you can hear the thunder you are most likely within striking distance of lightning and should take precautions. For lightning safety, he offers the following advice:    

• Don’t get caught in a storm. Monitor weather conditions and have a storm plan in the event extreme weather threatens. If you wait until the rain comes to get out of the weather, it may be too late. This is especially important if it may take you some time to get to a safe location, such as if you’re boating, golfing, or hiking.

• Secure outdoor furniture, toys, and planters to prevent them from taking flight.

• Get to a safe place before the weather worsens. Substantial buildings and hard-topped vehicles are safe options. Rain shelters, picnic pavilions, small sheds, and open vehicles are not safe.

• Once inside, stay away from showers, sinks, bathtubs, and electronic equipment.

• If you are caught outside, avoid water, high ground, and open spaces. Avoid proximity to other people.

• If you drive into a thunderstorm, slow down and use extra caution. Pull off the road into a safe area, if possible. Do not leave the vehicle during a thunderstorm.

• If someone is struck by lightning, they do not carry an electrical charge and are okay to touch. A lightning victim will need medical attention - call 911 immediately, and then start CPR or use an automated external defibrillator if needed.

• Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike before resuming outdoor activities.  

Most importantly cautions Commissioner Koury, if thunder and lightning is expected, cancel or postpone your outdoor plans. No golf match, baseball game, day of fishing, or other outdoor activity is worth the risk.

Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.

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