Lightning can be fascinating to watch, but it also can be deadly.
According to the National Weather Service, there have been 17 lightning-related deaths in the state of Connecticut since 1959.
On Sunday, June 8, 2008, the day started out bright and sunny at Hammonasset State Park in Madison. Then, clouds rolled in with thunderstorms during the afternoon, sending hundreds of people scrambling for cover.
Paul Arnett, of Rocky Hill, was one of those people who huddled inside a bathroom to wait out the storm.
“Luckily, we didn't get hit, but as the storm blew past, we heard screaming from outside,” Arnett said.
The screaming he heard was the sound of people reacting to a lightning strike in one of the pavilions.
Witnesses said about 100 people packed a pavilion outside of the campground area in search of shelter from the storm. Lightning struck the pavilion and traveled down to the ground, injuring several people and killing one of them.
“We came out, saw everybody panicking, several people lying on the ground,” Arnett said.
More recently, another lightning strike happened in Bridgeport at Seaside Park in 2012. Lightning struck a jetty as four men were fishing. Three people were injured and one person was killed.
Experts said the best advice is to move indoors when lightning approaches.
One lightning myth is that if the sun is shining and you hear thunder, you cannot be struck by lightning. The fact is, lightning can strike up to three miles away from the actual thunderstorm.
To learn more about lightning and lightning safety, check out the National Weather Service’s website for lightning facts and safety tips.