St. Petersburg Times

The Mariner's Guide to
Gulf Weather
When lightning strikes
Florida’s May through September lightning season is depicted in the 10 year climatology to the right. With 50 annual lightning strikes per square mile, it’s easy to see why the Tampa Bay area is the lightning capital of the United States.

Florida lightning
An average of 67 people are killed each year by lighting in the United States (eight-10 in Florida).That is more than are killed by tornadoes or hurricanes. Most lightning occurs in the afternoon – 70 percent between noon and 7 p.m. The best advice for boaters is to get off the water if lightning threatens. Large, anvil-shaped cumulus clouds are a sure sign trouble is on the way. If you hear thunder, you are probably within five miles of lightning. The sound of thunder travels at one mile per five seconds. If you are caught in a storm, stay low in the boat. Stop fishing and keep your hands and legs out of the water. Disconnect electronics if possible and lower your antenna.

Marine weather statements
Follow up for Special Marine Warnings or to provide information on conditions such as low water levels, dense fog, high surf conditions, hazardous materials spills, trends for increasing and/or decreasing winds, volcanic ash or to advise for the potential development of warning conditions.

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)
A nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information direct from the National Weather Service. NWR broadcasts NWS warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. NWR is an “all hazards” radio network, making it a single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information.

Times graphics by Steve Madden • text by TERRY TOMALIN and JASON LUSK