Have you ever met someone who has been struck by lightening? I had not, until I met Sierra Shafer, a reporter at the Palisadian-Post. I was so curious to hear her story I asked to interview her. I talked to Sierra on a day full of rainstorms. She looked at my umbrella on the table next to us and wondered why umbrellas are made of metal. That’s a good point.
Sophie: How old were you when you were struck by lightning?
Sierra: I was 9 or 10 years old.
Sophie: Where were you? Can you tell me what you remember?
Sierra: I lived in Colorado. It was August or September, the beginning of the school year, after a storm. After school, I was outside alone walking across a cement cul de sac on my way to a piano lesson. I was holding an umbrella.
Sophie: Did you see the lightning strike?
Sierra: No, I didn’t.
Sophie: Can you describe what happened and what it felt like?
Sierra: I was holding the umbrella and I felt a jolt in my arm. I fell down and cried out.
Sophie: Was is a sharp pain? Hot? Sizzly?
Sierra: No, it was more like a tingle in my arm, almost as if it fell asleep.
Sophie: Did anyone help you? Did you go to the hospital?
Sierra: My father heard me and came to help. My dad said that when he touched me, he felt electricity coming from me. I did not go to the hospital.
Sophie: Do you have a scar like Harry Potter?
Sierra: Wouldn’t that be cool if I did? But no, I did not get a scar.
Sophie: How do you feel about lightning now? Are you afraid of it?
Sierra: I’m not afraid of lightning now. I actually like storms. I like to watch lightning in the sky, when it’s far away.
Sophie: Do you know anyone who was struck by lightning?
Sierra: Yes, a friend of my mother’s who is a hiker was struck by lightning. Twice!
The website Live Science reports, “California, despite its size, receives just 85,000 lightning strikes in an average year, largely due to its mild, coastal weather.” That is not much lightning.
In the United States, Florida wins, getting 1.4 million lightning strikes per year. But in the whole world, Central Africa gets the most. For example, the tiny village of Kifuka in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is hit by lightning about 158 times each year.
The chance of being struck by lightning is 1 in 700,000. In the US, there are an average of 73 lightning fatalities and 300 injured by lighting per year.
When it comes to lightning, I’m glad I live in the Palisades too.