NWS: Number of US Lightning Deaths Are Double Last year and Double Average for Last 5 Years


Jim Cantore breaks down the anatomy of a lightning Strike.

The National Weather Service reports that the number of lightning deaths are double the number of deaths last year, and double the average deaths over the past five years. Lightning kills an average of 49 people in the United States each year. Hundreds more people are severely injured with burns and other injuries every year.

Seven people were killed by lightning in Illinois between 2005 and 2014. The most deaths in any state in the same time period were in Florida, where 47 deaths were reported.

National Weather Service Lightning Safety Specialist John Jensenius recommends what to do to prevent being in a dangerous situation involving lightning.

1. There is no safe place outdoors in a thunderstorm. NOAA’s recommendations are based on safety. If you can’t get inside a substantial building or hard-topped metal vehicle, you can’t be safe.

2. While there may be nothing you can do to lower your risk significantly, there are things you should avoid which would actually increase the risk of being struck. Those include:

Avoid open areas.

Don’t be the tallest object or don’t be near the tallest objects in the area.

Don’t shelter under tall or isolated trees.

In the woods, put as much distance between you and any tree.

If in a group, spread out so that you increase the chances for survivors who could
come to the aid of any victims from a lightning strike.

Specifically, for the question of the “hair standing on end,” Jensenius points out that there is nothing a person can do to keep from being struck and possibly killed. It is only a matter of luck. At that point, he recommends a person run as fast as possible to get to a safer location. While this may not protect them from a discharge from the current charge buildup, getting to a safer place may protect a person from subsequent lightning strikes.

More National Weather Service Lightning Safety Tips …


U.S. Lightning Deaths in 2015: 17

1 4/9 Thu NC Anderson Creek 56 F Under tree, near home Walking dogs Frankie Roberts
4/9 Thu NC Cary 28 M Parking Lot Waiting for friend Steven Bryan
3 5/4 Mon IA Moscow 35 M On horse Rounding up cattle William Clevenger
4 5/13 Wed FL Bonita Springs 36 M Roof Roofing Rigoberto Diaz-Segura
5 5/15 Fri NM Carrizozo 40 F Road Riding on Motorcycle Kalina Jinzo
6 5/21 Thu TX Port Lavaca 56 M Outside store Jesus Herrera Alvarez
7 6/1 Mon WV Fayette County 17 M Near tree Fishing Jacob Neff
8 6/13 Sat AR Benton County 22 M Boat on lake Fishing Connor Clayman
9 6/19 Fri FL Largo 81 M Near home Walking Jay Freres
10 6/20 Sat IA Palo 42 F Campground Camping Rebecca McCarthy
11 6/23 Tue AL Opp 42 M Outside home near tree Covering chickens Miguel Belnar
12 6/23 Tue AL Opp 45 F Outside home near tree Covering chickens Sharon G. Fletcher
13 6/26 Fri FL Port Orange 26 M Rooftop of home Working on roof Steven Lee Gang
14 6/26 Fri MO Seymour 30 M In field Cultivating field
15 6/27 Sat AZ Forest Lakes 24 F Under tree Hiking Christine Garcia
16 6/30 Tue AZ Benson 32 M Walking Alvaro Montoya
17 7/5 Sun AL Fort Morgan 12 F Beach Volleyball Megan Nickell


National Weather Service table.

Lightning Slow Motion Video Buffalo Grove Fire Department Quint 27 at Long Grove House Fire in 2011.

Duplex House Fire After Apparent Lightning Strike on Drury Lane, Arlington Heights in 2012.

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