Lightning Statistics

Lightning is often an unnoticed event because it strikes with single, not multiple, casualties at a time. However, these single hits add up to surprising numbers. Furthermore, if that single casualty is you or someone you know, then lightning is as disastrous as a multiple casualty event. Lightning tops the charts in weather related deaths in Florida. This data helps us to understand the dangerous potential of lightning.

Many people do not act to protect their lives or property because they do not understand the danger present in thunderstorms and lightning. Lightning is a serious weather related killer in Florida. Injuries can be severe and affect survivors and their families for years. Also, since summer is a time of increased outdoor activity placing people in high-risk situations, safety guidelines need to be followed. Finally, lightning reaches beyond the human scope and can cause severe damage to property.

Education is key to solving this problem. Awareness prompts safer actions and ultimately reduces the risks and injuries associated with lightning strikes. Participation in community weather watch groups proves a significant help in warning citizens of inclement weather. Attention to simple safety rules saves lives.

Disaster response personnel must be attentive to the lightning issue. Education, awareness, participation, and attention prompt readiness and increase response quality in the event of a lightning disaster.

Lightning Statistics

Statistical Data.
The following storm data collected from the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association,, show death statistics covering a thirty-five year period.

  • Lightning 53.1%
  • Drowning 16.1%
  • Tornadoes 12.9%
  • Hurricanes 8.7%
  • Wind 4.2%
  • Cold 3.5%
  • Misc. 1.5%

Interestingly, these statistics also point out that more deaths occur by lightning than by hurricanes and tornadoes combined (NOAA). In addition, a report posted on the National Lightning Safety Institute's website, shows a total of 345 people killed over a thirty-five year period, which is an average of 10 people per year in Florida. The average number of people killed per year across the U.S. is 93. Thus, we can conclude that as only one of fifty states, Florida receives a startling 10% of U.S. lightning deaths.

Ten US locations with the most deaths due to lightning from 1959-1994 in Storm Data.

Rank State Number of deaths
1 Florida 345
2 North Carolina 165
3 Texas 164
4 New York 128
5 Tennessee 124
6 Louisiana 116
7 Maryland 116
8 Ohio 115
9 Arkansas 110
10 Pennsylvania 109

Based on the numbers above, odds are about one in four that you will be killed if struck by lightning (NLSI). Injuries. Lightning does not always kill. Sadly, many victims sustain injuries that can affect them and their families for years to come. An additional study by the NLSI listed Florida at the top of the combined death and injury list displaying that the death figure more than quadrupled when injury figures were added to it. Types of injuries are addressed later in this report.

Ten US locations with the most casualties (deaths and injuries combined) due to lightning from 1959-1994 in Storm Data.

Rank State No. of deaths and injuries
1 Florida 1523
2 Michigan 732
3 Pennsylvania 644
4 North Carolina 629
5 New York 577
6 Ohio 545
7 Texas 498
8 Tennessee 473
9 Georgia 410
10 Colorado 394