Lightning's Only Dangerous When It's Raining
Sounds like the beginning of a Fleetwood Mac song. Nothing puts a damper on a day in the great outdoors quite like a steady rain. Whether you're taking in a game the ballpark, having a swim in the lake or hiking in the woods, when the sky opens up and starts pouring, we know it's time to find the nearest shelter. What most people don't understand, though, is that they can be at risk of being struck by lightning even when it's still dry out.
Lightning often hits as far as 3 miles (5 kilometers) outside of a thunderstorm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Experts have even come up with some nifty names to explain the unexpected phenomenon. Bolts from the Blue, for instance, are lightning flashes that typically come out of the back of a thunderstorm. This type of lightning strikes from generally clear skies, as far as 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the nearest rain cloud [sources: National Weather Service]. Anvil lightning, meanwhile, arcs away from the center of a storm, striking the ground as far as 50 miles (80 kilometers) away [sources: National Weather Service, Chicago Tribune].