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Lightning is a weather phenomenon that has been fascinating humankind for ages. This movement of electrical charges, on its own, has no temperature -- it is the resistance to the movement that causes heat in the materials lightning passes through. Lightning can heat the air to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit – about five times hotter than the surface of the sun. A flash of lightning holds enough energy to light a 100-watt incandescent light bulb for about three months.

Based on statistics from 2014, it’s estimated that you have a one in 960,000 chance of being struck by lightning in a given year, and a one in 12,000 chance of being struck in an eighty-year lifetime. In fact, lightning is considered to be a major source of storm deaths.

On this date in August of 1910, the Bismarck Tribune reported on the story of John Hurdig of Minot, who was receiving medical care after a lightning strike. He had been working with a binder in a field fourteen miles southeast of Minot when a storm blew up. He was trying to finish his work quickly, but was "knocked senseless" while four of the five horses he was using were prostrated by the strike of lightning. Hurdig's hat was burned completely to ashes, his hair was singed, and he had a red scar down his back where the bolt hit him.

This followed another report out of Dickinson, where Dave Kohn and his family were caught in a thunderstorm out on the road. Kohn was about twenty feet behind his wife and sons as they hurried to a nearby farm house. He was struck by lightning and instantly killed. His wife and family saw him fall.

Today, golfers are often thought to be the most vulnerable, but actually, it’s people fishing that account for the greatest number of lightning deaths.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker



August 9, 1910 - Bismarck Tribune

August 7, 1910 - Bismarck Tribune