Some of you might recall the thunderstorms we had in the early week of July here in the UK. The noise was deafening. Were it not for the welcome relief from the hot June month to replenish what had a very dry spell of very little to virtually no rainfall in the preceding months, the experience wouldn’t have been welcomed. The storm found me in the office but although predicted and warned about, nothing prepared me for the volume of water let alone the noise from the lightening storm. As scared as I was, my fear was groundless. There were lightning rods that deflected each bolt of lightning and I wasn’t in any danger.
Some of us might have romantic notions about storms and indeed they do make pretty awesome viewing as seen in some of the ariel photos often taken. Some people have even developed addictions and become storm chasers if we are to believe and accept the Hollywood version of events as depicted in some of the movies. Perhaps this romantic/fun notion might evaporate if and when you read on.
In the mid to late part of June this year, 21 people were killed in Uganda by a savage lightning storm that swept through parts of Uganda. 17 students and one teacher were killed when a freak storm sent lightning bolts raining down on the Runyanya Primary School, in Kiryandongo district in Uganda on the 29th of June. Initially officials in Uganda had put this figure at 15 people in a given week based on limited access due to the geographical locations of where these sad occurrences had happened. Adding to the communication issue, the transmission of three radio stations had reportedly been damaged by the lightening storm. Several police officials across the East African nation cited incidents. In all, they said 52 people have also been injured by the strikes.
The highest fatalities had occurred in buildings where persons had rushed to take shelter from the storm giving indication that lack of lightning conductors on buildings could be partly responsible for the deaths. The irony being that persons sought refuge in churches/mosques or schools, only to meet with their deaths. Many buildings are built on high ground- perhaps keeping them safe from flash floods, but making them targets for lightning bolts. A simple lightning rod would be all the protection those buildings need to keep persons safe from unpredictable weather. Each lightning rod costs $400/£244.
Currently storms in Uganda are a serious threat to life. Some sources indicate changing weather patterns in Uganda will make electrical storms more common. To date, in total more than 30 people have lost their lives and more than 100 people have been injured in the unusual summer storms – in the sense that this weather pattern is rare.
Most likely linked somewhat to the ecological imbalances cited in climatic changes and soil degradation whereby deforestation has been so intense on high grounds to make way for buildings and human habitation. Some of you might also quite rightly question the health and safety element in place pertaining to regulations in these parts of the world. The honest answer is: these things are all well researched and published. BUT enforcing regulations or laws in countries like Uganda is something of a great challenge and weak at all levels.