New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Entebbe, Tororo More Prone to Lightning Strikes

Do you live in Entebbe or Tororo? When there is a slight drizzle accompanied by strong winds you should run and keep indoors or get into your car in order to stay safe, according to the commissioner for Meteorology Michael Nkalubo.

He pointed out that lightening episodes are highest in the two areas over the years. He attributed the occurrence of lightening in the two areas to large amounts of iron in the soil.

"Tororo soils have got a lot of iron in the soil," he said adding that studies are going to be undertaken and that this will be followed by mapping of the parts of the country that are prone to lightning. "The two places even before studies are done are outstanding in lightning strikes in the region and Africa."

Nkalubo told New Vision at the sidelines of a weeklong workshop on "African Regional Training Programme" organised by the Ministry of Water and Environment and Centre of Science and Technology of the Non Aligned and other Developing Countries at Speke Resort and Country Lodge, Munyonyo.

Nkalubo explained that when clouds are moving they form opposite charges (positive and negative charges) which form electric current that result into lightening (sudden bright strikes) accompanied by thunder (loud bung).

He also pointed out sometimes the strikes are between two clouds, but the lethal strikes are between the cloud and the ground.

"It is safer to stay indoors and away from windows and doors," he said adding that even keeping inside the car is safer than walking in the open when there is a slight drizzle accompanied by violent clouds.

The Commissioner pointed out that most people falsely believe that lightening does not strike the same place twice and that areas with many masts are prone to lightening. "All this is myth," he said adding that the staff of the Meteorology Department who had gone to check on a recently installed rain gauge in Kasese survived being lynched because residents associate lightning with the new gadget.

However, he confessed that there is still a lot that is not known to scientists concerning lightning. "I have always known that lightning strikes tall buildings or structures, but the current research indicates that lightening does necessarily strike tall buildings."

Dr. Chandima Gomes, the associate professor Department of Electrical and Engineering University of Malaysia that it is not easy to predict where lightening is going to strike.

He also pointed that the 18 children and a teacher that were killed by lightning last year in Kiryandongo propelled a global discussion, which concluded with a proposal to hold the training workshop on lightening and protection in Uganda.

The lightning strikes that hit Uganda last year in June and July were unprecedented, according to Nkalubo. He also said that 10% of the lightning strikes result into death and 70% lead to permanent injuries including cardiac arrest, brain damage and memory loss.

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