Lightning during dry season sparks concerns

Certain strikes more likely to cause fires

(Krzysztof Falkowski/Free Images.com)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rain is usually a welcome sight during Central Florida's dry season, but when the storms are packed with lightning, they can bring along an increased risk of fires.

Dry season typically runs from November through April. Within those six months, Orlando tends to see an average of 16 inches of rainfall. Unfortunately, when less than normal rainfall is seen, Central Florida begins heading into drought conditions. 

Depending on the severity of the drought, counties could issue burn bans and/or water use restrictions. 

When a countywide burn ban is issued, all outdoor burning is prohibited to eliminate the threat of fire sparking and spreading quickly. 

Along with the human threat, weather could also spark concerns about brush fires. When strong storms travel along cold front boundaries, the risk of lightning increases. 

Although these rainstorms can help with beneficial moisture, the lightning that comes along with it could strike, igniting a fire. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, lightning causes an average of 24,600 forest, grass and house fires across the country every year.

Although every lightning strike has the potential to spark, some strikes are more likely than other to ignite fires.

Most lightning flashes consist of a quick leader stroke out and return stroke back. But some contain a longer flow of electricity called a continuing current. This type of strike lasts longer, causing the struck object to heat and ignite.   

Therefore, every lightning strike poses a threat but not every strike leads to a fire. 

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