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Lightning Dangers

The National Weather Service publication Storm Data recorded a total of 4,049 deaths from lightning strikes from the year 1959 through 2014. According to the National Weather Service, lightning caused 26 fatalities in the U.S. in 2014.

During a thunderstorm, avoid open spaces, trees, telephone booths, and ballparks. The safest place to be is in a building, preferably one with a lightning rod. The rod offers protection by intercepting lightning—an electrical charge—and transmitting its current into the ground. The other safe place is a car with the windows rolled up, as long as you don't touch any of the metal parts. If lightning strikes, the car's metal body will conduct the charge down to the ground—contrary to popular belief, the rubber of the wheels offers no protection.

Reported Lightning Deaths Per State, 1959—2014

StateDeaths Rank
Alabama 112 13
Alaska 0 51
Arizona 80 23
Arkansas 125 11
California 33 23
Colorado 143 5
Connecticut 17 41
Delaware 15 43
D.C. 5 49
Florida 477 1
Georgia 113 12
Hawaii 0 52
Idaho 27 37
Illinois 104 16
Indiana 90 22
Iowa 72 25
Kansas 66 26
Kentucky 97 20
Louisiana 142 6
Maine 27 38
Maryland 126 10
Massachusetts 32 34
Michigan 108 14
Minnesota 64 28
Mississippi 106 15
Missouri 99 19
Montana 29 35
Nebraska 45 31
Nevada 7 48
New Hampshire 8 46
New Jersey 74 24
New Mexico 91 21
New York 139 8
North Carolina 194 3
North Dakota 12 44
Ohio 146 4
Oklahoma 100 17
Oregon 9 45
Pennsylvania 133 9
Puerto Rico 33 33
Rhode Island 8 47
South Carolina 100 18
South Dakota 24 40
Tennessee 140 7
Texas 218 2
Utah 53 30
Vermont 16 42
Virginia 66 27
Washington 5 50
West Virginia 26 39
Wisconsin 64 29
Wyoming 29 36
Source: National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Reported Lightning Deaths Per Capita, 1959—2014

StateDeath rate
per million
people 1959–2014
Rank
Wyoming 1.211
New Mexico 1.16 2
Arkansas 0.98 3
Colorado 0.82 4
Florida 0.77 5
Mississippi 0.75 6
Montana 0.65 7
Louisiana 0.63 8
South Dakota 0.61 9
Oklahoma 0.60 10
Utah 0.59 11
Vermont 0.55 12
South Carolina 0.55 13
North Carolina 0.54 14
Tennessee 0.53 15
Alabama 0.51 16
Nebraska 0.51 17
Maryland 0.51 18
Idaho 0.49 19
Kansas 0.48 20
Kentucky 0.47 21
Iowa 0.45 22
Arizona 0.43 23
Maine 0.42 24
Delaware 0.42 25
Missouri 0.35 26
North Dakota 0.34 27
Georgia 0.33 28
Indiana 0.29 29
Wisconsin 0.29 30
Minnesota 0.27 31
West Virginia 0.25 32
Texas 0.25 33
Ohio 0.24 34
Puerto Rico 0.21 35
Michigan 0.21 36
Virginia 0.21 37
Pennsylvania 0.20 38
New Jersey 0.18 39
Illinois 0.16 40
New Hampshire 0.15 41
Rhode Island 0.15 42
D.C. 0.14 43
New York 0.14 44
Nevada 0.11 45
Connecticut 0.10 46
Massachusetts 0.10 47
Oregon 0.06 48
California 0.02 49
Washington 0.02 50
Alaska 0 51
Hawaii 0 52
Source: National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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