A fun day at the beach for two friends from Florida ended in a tragedy when lightning killed one of the women.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says Phyllis Kalinowski, 51, of Brandon, was visiting Belleair Beach with a friend Tuesday evening.
According to reports, a storm started to develop. The one friend, Dawn Ryskoski, left the beach to seek shelter from the storm.
After the storm was over, Dawn returned to the area where she last saw Phyllis.
According to the sheriff's office, Dawn found Phyllis lying on the beach near the shoreline 'with injuries indicative of a lightning strike.'
Phyllis died at the scene. She is survived by her husband of 26 years and their two grown children.
According to the National Weather Service, there have been four other lightning fatalities in the US so far in 2013. Last year, 28 people were killed by lightning in 17 states, five of them in Florida.
Now I picked this story for my blog for many reasons.
First of all, this tragedy could have been avoided. One friend seeked shelter when she saw the storm approaching.
The rule to follow… if you hear thunder or see lightning, you are close enough to be struck. Seek shelter immediately.
One journalist reporting on this particular story called the lightning strike a “freak” lightning strike. But this wasn't the case.
However, there is such a thing. It's called “bolts from the blue.”
A bolt from the blue is a cloud-to-ground lightning flash that typically comes out of the back side of the thunderstorm cloud. It can travel more than 25 miles away from the thunderstorm cloud. They also appear to come out of clear sky.
Another good rule to follow… it's a good idea to wait 30 minutes or more after the rain ends before going back outdoors.