Thunderstorms Prompt Evacuations

Severe thunderstorms again took their toll this weekend as one fan was killed and nine injured as a result of lightning strikes following a NASCAR race at Pocono raceway on Sunday.

The Associated Press reports that multiple lightning strikes occurred behind the racetrack’s grandstands and outside one of the gates as fans were leaving after warnings to take cover from the lightning and rain as the race was postponed.

Earlier, on Saturday, an estimated 60,000 fans and 3,000 staff, artists and vendors were evacuated from the annual Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago in 38 minutes, ahead of a severe thunderstorm warning for the area.

Over at Wunderblog, Dr. Jeff Masters notes that NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logged over 150 reports of wind damage from the storm, with five of the thunderstorms containing winds in excess of hurricane force (74 mph).

The Chicago Tribune reports that many of the measures leading up to the evacuation had been outlined in a severe weather plan jointly developed by the city and Lollapalooza promoter C3 Presents. The festival resumed three hours later.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)  notes  that in 2011 there were 26 lightning fatalities, three fewer than the 2010 total of 29 deaths and 11 fewer than the 10-year average of 37 fatalities, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The I.I.I. offers tips and resources on lightning safety here.

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