What does isolated thunderstorm really mean?

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What is the best way to behave when you are surprised by a thunderstorm? And does the old "lay flat on the ground" rule really apply to lightning?

Status: 06/15/2020 | archive

In summer it can go pretty fast every now and then and you will be caught up with the thunderstorm that just seemed so far away. When that happens, there are a few basic rules to keep in mind.

"Lie flat on the ground during a thunderstorm" - the old saying is wrong

If you should be surprised by a thunderstorm in an open field, then you should under no circumstances lie flat on the ground. Rather, it is important to give the flash as little space as possible. That is, crouch down, put your feet quite close together, and hug your legs. While this is inconvenient, it can protect you from lightning strikes.

The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief even advises you to crouch on tiptoe.

"In case of lightning, look for a deeper place like a depression. (...) Protect your head with your hands in case of hail."

Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance

See in the video how exactly this position should look like:

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Behavior in thunderstorms Experts recommend this body position in thunderstormsPosted by BAYERN 1 on Saturday, June 27, 2020

Be the lowest point

Lightning strikes the highest point. You should therefore avoid trees, overhead lines (at least 50m away) and put the screen down. If you are out on your bike, put it down and do not touch it again - this is where lightning could strike.

How likely is it to be struck by lightning?

There is little chance of being struck by lightning. In Germany it corresponds to a probability of one in 20 million. According to the cause of death statistics for Germany, which are collected annually by the Federal Statistical Office, five people died in 2018 from a lightning strike.