National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Stay Away from Metal in a Storm


On Thursday, July 11, 1991, Todd was home, inside his garage, repairing the exhaust system of his car. Although Todd was not aware of it at the time, the cirrus anvil of a distant storm was starting to spread overhead and a dangerous electrical potential was developing between the positively-charged anvil cloud and the negatively charged ground. To Todd, the sky appeared to be partly cloudy with no apparent indication of the storm. Suddenly, lightning struck nearby, traveled in and along the ground, and through the garage floor. Todd was hit as he installed the muffler on the car. The rain from the storm didn't arrive for an estimated 20 to 30 minutes after the lightning strike. Todd suffered burns on the right side of his body and in his throat, and had tremors in his left side immediately after the strike. Fortunately, Todd remained conscious and was able to call for help.

Todd's outward appearance, however, does not begin to show the debilitating injuries that he has suffered, and continues to suffer from the lightning strike. Like many lightning victims, Todd suffered irreversible nerve damage and has lived in constant pain for the past 10 years. Despite 15 operations and numerous consultations with specialists, Todd's severe pain continues. He is unable to work, and on some days, he is unable to function due to excruciating pain. Since the incident, Todd also suffers from short-term memory loss.

Todd was 24 years old at the time of the incident. Now, many years later, Todd is willing to tell his story in the hopes that other lightning victims will feel some comfort in knowing that they are not alone, and so that people will become more aware of the dangers of lightning and the devastating effects it can have on a person's life. Todd's mother, Carol, is very supportive of Todd and this effort. She finds it difficult to see her son in so much pain.