Meteorologist: Living in La. increases your chances of getting struck by lightning

Meteorologist: Living in La. increases your chances of getting struck by lightning

SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - As the weather gets warm, more outdoor events take place in New Orleans, and the threat of severe weather is all too common.

On Wednesday, lightning struck and killed 36-year-old Elvin Castro-Santiago while he was constructing a new home near the Slidell Harbor Center. Santiago's family told FOX 8 he was working on the roof when he was struck.

"There were around 3,500 lightning strikes in the area around the time the gentleman was hit," National Weather Service Meteorologist Michael Hill said.

Hill tracks severe weather from the agency's Slidell headquarters.

Just living along the Gulf Coast increases someone's chances of getting struck by lightning, he said.

"Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and the Gulf Coast where we have a lot of thunderstorms more frequently than they do up there in the Midwest. You are more likely to be struck by lightning down here," Hill said.

Louisiana is now tied with Florida with two fatalities involving lightning this year. Last month, lightning struck and killed 28-year-old Jacqui Stavis during a music festival in Larose. Two other women were hurt and a dog was killed by the same strike.

On Thursday, hundreds rushed for cover at Jazz Fest as thunderstorms moved over the New Orleans Fairgrounds.

Hill suggests being smart when running for cover.

"Go to a specific building, a structure or a car. Those are the best places to go," Hill said. "If you have to leave the festival or leave the gates and go to your car, that is more safe than everyone huddling up under a metal tent. That's not a safe place at all."

According to the NWS, lightning strikes killed 27 people last year. Eleven of the victims were women and 16 were men. 
Between 2005 and 2015, nine people in Louisiana were killed by lightning strikes.

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