Lightning in Washington DC that killed three offers climate warning

Aug 5 (Reuters) – Scientists say climate change is increasing the likelihood of lightning strikes across the United States, after lightning struck a plaza near the White House, leaving three people dead and another in critical condition. .

Hot and humid conditions in Washington, DC, on Thursday were primed for electricity. Air temperatures topped 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius), or 5F (3C) higher than the normal 30-year high temperature for August 4, according to the National Weather Service.

More heat can draw more moisture into the atmosphere, while also encouraging rapid updraft, two key factors for charged particles, which lead to lightning. A key to study published in 2014 in the journal Science warned that the number of lightning could increase by 50% this century in the United States, with every 1 C (1.8 F) of warming translating into a 12% increase in the number of Ray.

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fast heating Alaska has seen a 17% increase in lightning activity since the cooler 1980s. And in typically dry California, a siege of some 14,000 lightning strikes during August 2020 sparked some of the largest wildfires on record in the state.

Beyond the United States, there is evidence that lightning is also shooting at India Y Brazil.

But even as lightning increases, being struck by one remains extremely rare in the United States, experts say. About 40 million lightning strikes strike the country each year, according to the Center for Disease Control, with a less than 1-in-a-million chance of striking.

Among those who are struck, about 90% survive the ordeal, the CDC says. The country recorded 444 lightning deaths from 2006 to 2021.

The two men and two women struck by lightning Thursday while visiting Washington’s Lafayette Square, just north of the White House, were among the unlucky few struck by lightning that struck the ground during a violent afternoon thunderstorm.

The lightning struck near a tree that is meters from the fence that surrounds the presidential residence and the offices facing the square, which is usually full of visitors, especially in the summer months.

All four victims sustained critical, life-threatening injuries and were taken to area hospitals. read more Two of them later died: James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wisconsin, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life,” the White House said in a statement Friday. “Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones and we pray for those who are still fighting for their lives.”

Later on Friday, a third victim, a 29-year-old man, was pronounced dead, the Metropolitan Police Department said. Further details about the victim were withheld until next of kin were notified.

Because heat and moisture are often needed to produce lightning, most strikes happen in the summer. In the United States, the populous subtropical state of Florida is the one that more people die from lightning.

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Reporting from Gloria Dickie in London; Additional reporting by Frank McGurty in New York and Chris Gallagher in Washington; Edited by Louise Heavens, Mark Porter and Shri Navaratnam

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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