4 Common Signs That Lightning Is About To Strike

Preparedness and awareness are key to reducing danger risks, no matter the situation. Lightning, one of the most dangerous and powerful natural phenomena, can be unpredictable, making it hard to prepare for. You never really know where, when, or if it’ll strike. However, you can stay vigilant with advanced technology and proper insight. Know the common signs that lightning is about to strike and increase your lighting preparation and awareness.

The Calm Before the Storm

Often before a lightning storm, the air feels still and oppressively hot due to the thunderstorm’s downdrafts suppressing wind near the storm’s center. The eerie calmness in the air can signal that the atmospheric conditions are ripe for a thunderstorm. It’s wise to find shelter as soon as possible if you notice a sudden increase in humidity, making the air feel heavy and dense, along with dark, towering clouds.

Darkening Clouds

The rapid darkening of clouds is one of the most obvious signs of an approaching storm. Thunderclouds, or cumulonimbus clouds, are especially tall and dense, and they can quickly turn the sky into a dark, threatening shade of gray or even black. Dark thunderclouds are often the harbingers of lightning, thunder, and heavy rains.

Turbulent updrafts and downdrafts cause particles to collide inside a thundercloud, creating a separation of electrical charges. The clouds’ charge separation generates an immense electrical potential between the cloud and the ground. A lightning bolt strikes when the potential overcomes air resistance.

Static Electricity in the Air

Have you ever noticed your hair standing on end during a storm? Such static isn’t just a creepy phenomenon. Lightning can cause pointed objects (including the tips of your hair) to emit electrical discharges when the atmospheric electric field becomes strong enough. This buildup of static electricity indicates that the conditions are suitable for a lightning strike.

Thunder Sounds

The rapid expansion of the air surrounding a lightning bolt causes thunder. Therefore, you’re already within the range where lightning could strike you if you can hear thunder. Remember, head indoors when thunder roars.

Carrying a compact lightning detector with you can keep you ahead of the game, ensuring you stay alert and aware before you are well in range of a strike. Advanced lightning detectors like TALOS’ can detect lightning from as far as 25 miles away—the maximum distance range of a lightning strike. Thunder usually indicates lightning is within a 10-mile radius where there’s a higher risk of getting struck.

Prepare and stay aware of lightning danger by knowing these common signs that lighting is about to strike. No matter where you are or what you are doing, the best thing to do is quickly move indoors when you come across any sign of lightning danger. Err on the side of caution.

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Easy to set up and install on our boat. It provides assurance knowing we have an advanced warning system in place for storm fronts.

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Looks and works great!

Easy to set up and install on our boat. It provides assurance knowing we have an advanced warning system in place for storm fronts.

John G. - TALOS Lightning Detector