Lightning kills man beneath cloudless sky

LightningA Dade landscaper died after being struck by an unusual type of lightning that's stronger, hotter, lasts longer and strikes from clear skies.

David Canales, 41, of West Miami-Dade, was on the job at a Pinecrest home when the bolt hit. It first seared a tree, then traveled and struck Canales, standing nearby.

Experts said Canales was killed by a weather phenomenon fittingly called a "bolt from the blue" or "dry lightning" because it falls from clear, blue skies.

Dan Dixon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said that when Canales was hit, a typical afternoon storm was forming but nowhere near the area.

Weather data showed that lightning activity picked up north of Pinecrest shortly before 1 p.m., as a storm gathered momentum and swept through Coral Gables and then downtown.

"Most lightning will come from the base of a thunderstorm, inside that rain-shaft area," Dixon explained. "But occasionally, what we call a bolt from the blue comes out of a thunderstorm still several miles away."

Most lightning bolts carry a negative charge, but "bolts from the blue" have a positive charge, carry as much as 10 times the current, are hotter and last longer.

Dixon said protecting yourself from such unexpected lightning is difficult.

"They are very unpredictable and very dangerous. We urge people to stay indoors even if you hear thunder only faintly in the distance," Dixon said. "If you're close enough to hear thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning."

Source: Miami Herald
Image: Reedcat / Flickr
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