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Forecaster unveils lightning tracker for Lightning Safety Week

Lightning strikes in the distance behind a field of hay bales near Highway 1 west of Brandon during a thunderstorm a few years ago.

TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Lightning strikes in the distance behind a field of hay bales near Highway 1 west of Brandon during a thunderstorm a few years ago.

During summer in Canada, lightning strikes on average every three seconds. And Environment Canada is watching.

With recent advances in lightning detection technology, the national forecaster has unveiled an online map that tracks lightning strikes in near-real time across the country. They're promoting the map in conjunction with Lightning Safety Week, which runs June 10–16 this year.

Located at weather.gc.ca/lightning, the map is updated every 10 minutes and shows areas where lightning is currently striking the ground. There is a Canada-wide map as well as six regional maps, including one for the prairies. They've also produced a video showing how to use the map.

Environment Canada warns that lightning, as well as causing power outages and forest fires, can also seriously injure or kill.

If the map indicates that you are in a danger area, or if you hear thunder, Environment Canada says you should go to a safe location — either a building with plumbing and wiring or an all-metal vehicle. They suggest you should stay there for 30 minutes following the last rumble of thunder.

Why so long? Research in North America shows that one-third of lightning injuries and fatalities occur in the early stages of a storm, another third at the peak of a storm and the final third once the peak of the storm has passed by.

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