Articles | Volume 13, issue 3
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 721–726, 2013
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 721–726, 2013

Brief communication 20 Mar 2013

Brief communication | 20 Mar 2013

Brief communication "A multi-disciplinary approach to a side-flash lightning incident to human beings in the Basque Country"

J. López1,2, V. Urgoiti1,3, M. González3, J. A. Aranda1,3, S. Gaztelumendi1,2, and P. Anitua1,3 J. López et al.
  • 1Euskalmet, Basque Meteorology Agency, Miñano, Spain
  • 2Tecnalia Research and Innovation, Meteo Area, Miñano, Spain
  • 3Directorate of Emergencies and Meteorology, Basque Government, Vitoria, Spain

Abstract. On 31 August 2011 a lightning incident affecting two human beings was registered in the Basque Country (northern Spain). The two individuals were sightseeing in the Painted Forest of Oma (province of Biscay, Basque Country) when an approaching thunderstorm forced them to look for shelter under the lowest branches of one of the trees. A lightning discharge in that exact place caused serious injuries to the couple, consisting of the loss of consciousness, superficial burns, a tympanic membrane perforation and a broken clavicle. The investigation presented in this paper was carried out in order to find out the causes by which the couple was hit by the lightning discharge and why the injuries were superficial and did not kill them. Using the data available by the lightning detection networks in the Basque Country and the information available by the weather radar, the exact place where the lightning discharge occurred could be found, the mechanism of lightning injury was classified and the episode was reconstructed.