NOAA 2004-R224
Contact: Marcie Katcher
NOAA News Releases 2004
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When the thunder that Little Leaguers hear is not the roar of the crowd, it is time to get inside, because lightning may be close behind. That’s why the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) is teaming up with Little League Baseball to provide valuable life-saving information regarding the dangers of lightning.

“NOAA is proud to partner with Little League Baseball on our effort to educate the public on the dangers of lightning, and particularly the coaches, umpires, parents, and children who are involved with Little League Baseball and Softball,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Lightning is an underrated killer, claiming, on average, more lives than either tornadoes or hurricanes.”

Little League Baseball has been proactive in providing lightning-safety information to officials across the country through their safety newsletter, ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program). In their November/December 2003 newsletter, Little League Baseball included a copy of a “Coach’s and Sports Official’s Guide to Lightning Safety,” developed by NOAA’s NWS. Previously, the April 2002 issue of ASAP included an article written by NOAA on lightning safety.

“The safety of our players, parents, coaches, and spectators is of utmost importance to us,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball. “Lightning is one of our greatest concerns on the field, and we appreciate the safety information that NOAA provides to us. We want everyone involved in Little League Baseball to understand the dangers of lightning so that they will take the appropriate action when thunderstorms threaten.”

“The bottom line is that if you hear thunder, you need to get inside immediately,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from a thunderstorm, which is about the distance that the sound of thunder can travel and be heard. All thunderstorms produce lightning, and each lightning strike is a potential killer.”

Lightning casualties can occur at any time of the year, but are most frequent in the late spring and summer thunderstorm season, when people tend to be outside. Annually, about 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur in the United States. From 1971 to 2000, lightning killed an average of 73 people each year in the United States and injured hundreds more.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s NWS operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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