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October 15, 2019

Ensuring safety during lightning strikes in early monsoon season

  • The start of the monsoon season in Myanmar is accompanied with the formation of dense cumulus clouds, which can produce lightning, gale-force winds, and twisters.
    With the advent of rains, farmers begin to prepare for growing crops, and people tend to be on the alert for diseases and disaster risks. At the same time, they must take care to be on the lookout for lightning strikes.
    The bright streaks of light that flash across the sky during thunderstorms are categorized as some of the most dangerous weather events, and we have had more reports of people being killed by lightning strikes.
    Since 1978, the monsoon has been shortening gradually, with rains arriving late in Myanmar and retreating early. This means we have been experiencing long pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons. With the formation of cumulus clouds in the pre-monsoon and post-monsoon season, there has been an increase in the number of lightning strikes, hailstorms, and gale-force winds.
    Flash floods kill people and animals every year, and twisters are also common.
    The number of deaths from lightning has also increased, reaching over 100 during some years. It has been found that a majority of victims were farmers, and they were struck by lightning while working in the farmland.
  • The death toll from lightning strikes is expected to continue rising year by year.
    Most parts of the country have experienced lightning and strong winds during the day due to high temperatures. However, there are ways in which people can protect themselves and reduce the risk of death.
    We must switch off electrical appliances such as televisions and mobile phones during rainstorms accompanied by thunder and lightning.
    Gale-force winds, which tend to follow heavy rainfall, hit parts of Myanmar every year, destroying homes and toppling trees.
    In April and May, which see more rain showers, people must be on the alert for flash floods, landslides, gales, lightning, and hailstones due to cumulus clouds.
    For outdoor safety, people must get off hills, mountains, or peaks as quickly as possible, never use a cliff or overhang as a shelter, move as far away as possible from ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water, stay away from objects that can conduct electricity, and never lie flat on the ground or stand under an isolated tree.
    Operators of vessels in rivers must remain on the alert for tornadoes that can occur during thunderstorms.

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