STS-8 Lightning SmallThe warm Sub Tropical air makes Orlando the perfect year round destination with hours of sunshine most days.  Occasionally, a storm sets in, temporarily turning the bright blue skies to dark grey clouds.  If it happens, expect a bit of thunder too, so take shelter and enjoy the spectacle of warm wet rain splashing off the walkways for 15 minutes or so!

We thought we’d share some important tips and facts about mother nature’s most spectacular show that fascinates locals, newcomers and seasoned visitors alike!
(Image Courtesy NASA – STS-8)

Don’t be afraid of Lightning!  Just Respect It!

First of all, if you take some very simple precautions, lightning storms will not pose a threat to you or your family.  Most importantly, do not panic.  When the storm comes, remain calm and follow the simple advice below.  You are more likely to hurt yourself running, slipping and falling or colliding with another person or vehicle as you seek shelter than you are of being affected by a lightning strike directly.

Simple safety advice for Thunder Storms

  1. Avoid wide open spaces
  2. Avoid high ground, always seek lower lying land
  3. Seek shelter in buildings and cars with solid roofing
  4. Avoid water, beaches, lakes pools (biggest cause of injury)
  5. Do not operate electrical devices and corded phones
  6. Do not shelter under trees (second biggest cause of injury!)
  7. Don’t use an umbrella, golf clubs or fishing poles

Some Florida Lightning Facts

  1. In a typical day of storms, over 100,000 strikes can ‘ground’ in Florida
  2. Lightning heats the air to 50,000F which makes the ‘bang’ of the thunder
  3. Sound takes 5 seconds to travel a mile
  4. For every 5 seconds between flash and bang, you are a mile away
  5. That’s why we see the flash first and then hear the thunder later
  6. A lightning bolt is only one inch wide
  7. A strike can spread out 60ft after reaching ground
  8. Lightning clouds can be over 3 miles wide
  9. Lightning bolts are typically between 2 and 10 miles long
  10. Lightning bolts operate in excess of 100 million volts
  11. Amps in a strike exceed 10,000 (up to 200,000)
  12. There are 8.6 million lightning strikes a day on earth (100 a second!)
  13. Almost all lightning strike victims were NOT following the advice
  14. Following advice reduces your risk to practically zero
  15. We could power 8% of US Homes if ALL of the earth’s lightning was harnessed
  16. The science isn’t yet ready to be able to capture and store lightning effectively

Thunder Storm Safety in The Theme Parks

The theme parks make use of advanced weather monitoring provided by NOAA and also adopt very strict policies for closing attractions as storms approach.
As storms approach, you can expect tall, exposed or water based outdoor attractions to close first, including roller coasters, river rapids and entire water park areas.
The storm distances are set to enable time for rides to complete their circuit, and safely offload all passengers.  Rides will not resume until the storm has passed and cleared by a safe distance.
During this time, our advice is to remain in the park safely and seek shelter in a restaurant, store or indoor attraction.
This is not only your safest bet, but, you will be rewarded for your patience when the storm passes to reveal a sun-drenched and very empty theme park!

Our Special Advice for Water Parks

Water Parks need particular care when visiting on a day that storms are scheduled to pay you a visit.  The safety advice at a water park is just the same as anywhere else, and by following those simple guidelines above, you will not have a problem at all.
Our special advice for Water Parks has a few small additions though:
  1. Before visiting the Water Park, check the forecast to find the exact time that the storm is expected to arrive.  If you aren’t sure or forgot to check, ask a life guard or Cast Member for their estimate.  PLAN YOUR MEAL around this information and beat the rush to the sheltered restaurants
  2. Our personal advice:  If you see dark, thick clouds developing, play safe and don’t head into a big line wait for rides.  Instead stick around things like the lazy river or wave pool so that you can reach shelter quickly.
  3. Always note that if prolonged storms are expected, the park may not operate that day

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