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Lightning Dangers

The National Weather Service publication Storm Data recorded a total of 9,235 deaths from lightning strikes between 1940 and 2012. According to the National Weather Service, lightning caused 28 fatalities across 17 states in 2012.

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—2012

StateDeaths Rank
Alabama 112 12
Alaska 0 51
Arizona 74 23
Arkansas 123 11
California 31 33
Colorado 141 5
Connecticut 17 41
Delaware 15 43
D.C. 5 49
Florida 468 1
Georgia 110 13
Hawaii 0 52
Idaho 27 38
Illinois 102 16
Indiana 90 21
Iowa 72 25
Kansas 66 26
Kentucky 95 20
Louisiana 141 5
Maine 27 38
Maryland 126 10
Massachusetts 30 34
Michigan 107 14
Minnesota 63 28
Mississippi 105 15
Missouri 97 19
Montana 29 35
Nebraska 45 31
Nevada 7 48
New Hampshire 8 45
New Jersey 74 23
New Mexico 90 21
New York 138 8
North Carolina 194 3
North Dakota 12 44
Ohio 146 4
Oklahoma 100 17
Oregon 8 45
Pennsylvania 128 9
Puerto Rico 33 32
Rhode Island 8 45
South Carolina 99 18
South Dakota 24 40
Tennessee 140 7
Texas 215 2
Utah 53 30
Vermont 16 42
Virginia 66 26
Washington 5 49
West Virginia 26 39
Wisconsin 61 29
Wyoming 29 35
Source: National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Reported Lightning Deaths Per Capita, 1959—2012

StateDeath rate
per million
people 1959–2012
Rank
Wyoming 1.251
New Mexico 1.19 2
Arkansas 1.0 3
Colorado 0.84 4
Florida 0.78 5
Mississippi 0.77 6
Montana 0.68 7
Louisiana 0.65 8
South Dakota 0.63 9
Oklahoma 0.62 10
Utah 0.61 11
Vermont 0.57 12
North Carolina 0.56 13
South Carolina 0.56 13
Tennessee 0.55 15
Alabama 0.53 16
Nebraska 0.53 16
Maryland 0.53 16
Idaho 0.51 19
Kansas 0.50 20
Kentucky 0.49 21
Iowa 0.47 22
Maine 0.44 23
Delaware 0.44 23
Arizona 0.42 25
Missouri 0.36 26
North Dakota 0.35 27
Georgia 0.33 28
Indiana 0.30 29
Wisconsin 0.28 30
Minnesota 0.27 31
West Virginia 0.26 32
Texas 0.25 33
Ohio 0.25 34
Puerto Rico 0.22 35
Michigan 0.22 54
Virginia 0.21 37
Pennsylvania 0.21 37
New Jersey 0.18 39
Illinois 0.16 40
New Hampshire 0.16 40
Rhode Island 0.15 42
D.C. 0.14 43
New York 0.14 43
Nevada 0.11 45
Connecticut 0.10 46
Massachusetts 0.10 46
Oregon 0.05 48
California 0.02 49
Washington 0.02 49
Alaska 0 51
Hawaii 0 51
Source: National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Information Please� Database, � 2010 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

2005 Hurricane Season Weather Lightning Deaths 1998-2007

More on Lightning Dangers from Infoplease:

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  • Lightning (storm data, deaths, lightning myths, and safety tips) - Read about lightning myths, facts, and data from Storm Data about the number of lightning-related deaths and how to stay safe during a lightning storm.
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