Separate lightning strikes hit two vehicles near Ponoka

No one injured in lightning strikes on Thursday morning

A pair of drivers got shocking looks at nature’s fury when they were hit by lightning in separate incidents near Ponoka on Thursday.

Alberta Motor Association spokeswoman Misty Harris said the agency got word of the lightning strikes on Thursday morning through Ponoka First Call Towing, which was responding to a call for an AMA client.

The driver said it was the second lightning strike he had been to that morning.

While the tow truck driver did not do a mechanical inspection, “two vehicles showed all the symptoms of having been struck by lightning,” she said.

The people in the vehicles were also convinced they had been victims of lightning strikes.

No one was hurt in either incident, but it was reported that a tire was blown out and electronics were fried in one of the vehicles, a minivan.

Harris said the AMA wants to use the incident to remind drivers to take precautions when the weather gets hairy.

“We have some pretty crazy summer storms.”

Since 2010, just over half of all storm-related damage in Canada has happened in Alberta, she said.

The AMA’s website has lots of information about lightning and driving. For instance, the reason people inside vehicles are generally safe in vehicles is not because of the rubber tires, but because of the metal frame, which directs the electrical current outside the vehicle.

If hit by lightning while driving, pull over and wait the storm out, says the AMA. Don’t park next to trees or utility poles and keep your hands off metal components inside the vehicle until the storm passes.

If you suspect your vehicle was struck by lightning, do a walk-around inspection before hitting the road again.

Tire damage and electrical system malfunctions are common after a lightning strike.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says lightning bolts are a million times more powerful than a typical household current. Six to 12 people are killed and 60 to 70 injured by lightning every year in Canada.

That is more people than are killed by hail, wind, rain and tornadoes combined.

Environment Canada has a lightning danger map online that indicates areas most likely to experience lightning strikes in the next 10 minutes. Times are based on Co-ordinated Universal Time, which is six hours ahead of Alberta now.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry also tracks lightning with a network of sensors for its lightning sensor analyzer map on the site.

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