Just days after 23 boy scouts in New Hampshire were burned by a lightning bolt while huddling under a lean-to during a severe storm, a group of campers in the Midwest was seriously injured. On June 29, three children participating in outdoor activities at the Goldman Union Camp Institute in northwest Indiana were hurt when a lightning bolt struck a field at the camp.
The news media reported the strike at the camp was the only lightning in the vicinity. To determine the location and time of this strike and any other lightning in the area, our meteorologists examined lightning strike data from our Total Lightning Network. This network is the largest in the world for detecting both ground strikes as well as in-cloud lightning strikes that often precede severe weather. Take a look at the timeline of events as we captured it below (you’ll see in-cloud lightning in magenta and cloud-to-ground lightning in yellow):
Lightning can jump 10 or more miles from a storm. In-cloud lightning (shown in magenta) was detected within 10 miles 12 minutes before the cloud-to-ground strike (shown in yellow) that injured the campers.
Over the next several minutes, many in-cloud lightning strikes were detected.
At 1:35 pm, our Total Lightning Network detects cloud-to-ground lightning about 5 miles away.
At 1:38 pm, the cloud-to-ground strike hit the field and injured the campers. Here is a closer view showing where the cloud-to-ground strike hit.
A look at the total lightning (both cloud-to-ground and in-cloud) captured during the entire event. The magenta flashes represent in-cloud lightning strikes and the yellow flashes represent cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.
Deadly lightning strikes may be more common than you might think. An article on IndyStar.com noted that 90 people have been killed by lightning in Indiana alone since 1959.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the children and families affected by the incident.
Please remember to be extra careful when outside this summer!