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The lightning capital

SINGAPORE - Does lightning strike twice? It does in Singapore.

Singapore has an average of 186 lightning days a year -- making it one of the lightning capitals of the world. Due to the tropical weather conditions, each square kilometer of land in Singapore can be struck up to 16 times a year.  

April, May and November are the most lightning-prone months here due to the intense inter-monsoon conditions. During these 3 months, Singapore’s National Environment Agency records an average of 20 thunder days. The lowest incidence of thunder days occurs during the months of January and February.  


Singapore has an average of 0.35 lightning deaths per million people each year (2000-2003), compared to 0.2 in Britain, 0.6 in the United States and 1.5 in South Africa. While lightning-related deaths or injuries are extremely rare, they do unfortunately occur.

Lion struck

Even the famous Merlion statue in Marina Bay was not spared of lightning.
 
A lightning strike damaged the statue on February 28, 2009 sometime between 4 and 5pm. No one was hurt in the incident but the lightning strike and subsequent explosion created a hole the size of a soccer ball, requiring the attraction to be closed to the public for a few days while repair work was completed.

The island state enforces some very stringent codes for lightning protection.

In an article about lightning published on Nov. 22, 2011, Singapore’s The Straits Times reported: “Most public places are protected. For example, devices are fitted to the top of floodlight towers at stadiums. Public pools are equipped with lightning rods and the management is instructed to check the three-hourly storm forecasts on NEA's website.Buildings, observation towers and other structures meant to house people are also supposed to be shielded by law. Gazebos in parks, for example, have metal roofs and are 'earthed' with thick metal strips to make them lightning-proof. To protect children who are too young to understand the risks, the agency and the Education Ministry introduced an SMS alert system in 2007.”

Golf courses have siren warnings and rooftop bars, beaches and outdoor events are also instructed to check on the thunderstorm forecasts an ideally have lightning detection equipment.

Myths such as raincoats or rubber soled shoes as lightning protection are just that, myths. The current involved in a lightning strike is just too strong for these things to protect you.

In the event of a thunderstorm, experts provide the following advice:

If you are outdoors:

If you are indoors:

How to help a lightning victim?

The first 4 minutes are crucial to prevent brain damage: