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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Lightning Survival — Life or death

Lightning Survival — Life or death

We are entering the most dangerous time of the year for thunderstorms. We have seen many severe storms in Oklahoma and Texas resulting in tornadoes. Thunderstorms are one weather event that we can manage in terms of deaths.

Thanks to John Jensenius of NOAA, here are interesting statistics about the number of deaths historically. There were 28 deaths in 17 states. The good news is that the average number of fatalities from such storms has dropped dramatically thanks to education and a series of policies surrounding sporting events. Here is an historical look at the number of deaths by months/ year. Even if the norm is 54 deaths, in the 1970s it was not unusual to have that number top 75 deaths.

Lightning Fatalities By Month

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 NORMAL
Jan. 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Feb. 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Mar. 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1
Apr. 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 3 2
May 6 0 1 4 2 2 5 5 6
June - 3 5 7 12 9 12 10 12
July - 13 9 11 10 14 10 16 16
Aug. - 6 6 4 3 0 9 7 12
Sept. - 2 4 2 4 1 5 4 5
Oct. - 1 1 1 1 0 2 2 1
Nov. - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dec. - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Year 6* 28 26 29 34 28 45 48 54

* To date

Locations — we know that Central Florida is the lightning capital of the world — most strikes. In 2013, there have been 5 lightning fatalities in the United States. Here is a breakdown of deaths this year to date by state:

IL — 2
MO — 1
LA — 1
TX — 1
FL – 1

Deaths are primarily males doing outdoor activities (golf, fishing, yard chores, etc.). In 2012 three women died, this year 3 out of the 5 recorded deaths are women. There are a number of things you can do to stay safe in a thunderstorm. Check out some of these safety tips we’ve offered in the past. Pay attention to impending weather. Remember that lightning bolts can travel 10 miles. A young girl playing soccer under clear skies was killed in recent years form a bolt that traveled miles.

Lightning doesn’t always strike and kill. Here is a link to our story about survivors for the 2012 Farmers’ Almanac. It is an interesting read and includes a gentleman who survived two strikes.

This has been a crazy spring for weather nationally — deadly storms, snow in the Midwest and some snow in Maine and N.H over the Memorial Day Weekend. When the sun shines, we all want to get outdoors and have fun. Be sure to follow our suggestions for safety during thunderstorms and enjoy all the summer has to offer.

2 comments

1 Denise Carrington { 07.15.14 at 11:32 am }

I have a phobia about lightening. It disrupts my live. What I do to feel safer?

2 Wilna { 06.04.13 at 6:09 pm }

I was struck by lightning in 1962. I survived it but I was pregnant at the time. My child was born with on center vision and the Dr’s say that my nerves are scrambled. Can this be true?

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