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NOAA Ocean Today: When Lightning Strikes

2 minutes

(Describer) Above an ocean horizon, a logo of a wave rises. Title: Ocean Today.

(Describer) Forks of lightning strike across a dark sky. More flashes above ocean waves. Title: When Lightning Strikes.


(female narrator) Lightning is a rapid discharge of electrical energy in the atmosphere. Each spark can span over five miles in length, reach temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun, and contain 100 million volts of electricity. Lightning strikes are not only dangerous, they can be deadly. The electrostatic discharge occurs within a cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. Lightning doesn't strike the ocean as much as land. When it does, it spreads out over the water, which acts as a conductor. It can hit nearby boats and electrocute fish that are near the surface.

(Describer) Lightning flashes through clouds.

If you're at the beach and hear thunder or see lightning, get out of the water. Get off the beach and take shelter in a building or in your car.

(Describer) A boat moves.

If you're at sea, head back to a shelter on land. If you can't, either stay low in the boat or retreat to a cabin. Do not use electronic equipment during the storm. Every year, millions of lightning flashes fill our skies. Each one has the potential to cause a devastating and shocking impact.

(Describer) Lightning flashes, and the screen flickers and fades to black. Titles: For more information on lightning safety, go to the following sites: Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB:

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Now Playing As: Captioned (English) (change)

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Not only can lightning strike twice, but it can also strike the ocean. Individuals must take certain safety measures when surrounded by water during a storm. Part of the "NOAA Ocean Today" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 2 minutes

NOAA Ocean Today
Episode 1
2 minutes
Grade Level: 6 - 12
NOAA Ocean Today
Episode 2
3 minutes
Grade Level: 6 - 12