Thunderstorms



Thunderstorms around the World and in the United States

Meteorologists estimate that, at any given moment, some 1,800 thunderstorms are in progress over Earth's surface, and about 18 million a year around the world. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 to 125,000 thunderstorms occur in the United States each year. Of that total anywhere from 10 to 20 percent may be severe. The National Weather Service considers a thunderstorm severe if it produces hail at least three-quarters of an inch in diameter, winds of 58 mph or stronger, or a tornado. From 1996 to 2001, a total of 134,005 severe thunderstorms were recorded (not associated with tornadoes), an average of 19,144 annually. The frequency with which these giant generators of local weather occur, along with the quantity of energy they release and the variety of forms this energy can take, make thunderstorms great destroyers of life and property.

HOW THUNDERSTORMS DEVELOP

Thunderstorms are generated by thermal instability in the atmosphere, and represent a violent example of convection—the vertical circulation produced in a fluid made thermally unstable by the local addition or subtraction of heat and the conversion of potential to kinetic energy. The convective overturning of atmospheric layers that sets up a thunderstorm is dynamically similar to convective circulations observed under laboratory conditions, where distinct patterns are generated in liquids by unequal heating.

The orderly circulations produced in a laboratory are rarely encountered in the atmosphere, where areas corresponding to the rising core of laboratory convective cells are marked by cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. Clouds are parcels of air that have been lifted high enough to condense the water vapor they contain into very small, visible particles. These particles are too small and light to fall out as rain. As the lifting process continues, these particles grow in size by collision and coalescence until they are large enough to fall against the updrafts associated with any developing convective clouds. Cumulus (for accumulation) clouds begin their towering movement in response to atmospheric instability and convective overturning. Warmer and lighter than the surrounding air, they rise rapidly around a strong, central updraft. These elements grow vertically, appearing as rising mounds, domes, or towers.

The atmospheric instability in which thunderstorms begin may develop in several ways. Radiational cooling of cloud tops, heating of the cloud base from the ground, and frontal effects may produce an unstable condition. This is compensated in air, as in most fluids, by the convective overturning of layers to put denser layers below less-dense layers.

Rainiest U.S. Cities

Listed below are the rainiest cities in the U.S. Average number of days with rain is shown parenthetically.

  1. Quillayute, WA (210)
  2. Astoria, OR (191)
  3. Elkins, WV and Syracuse, NY (171)
  4. Buffalo, NY (169)
  5. Marquette, MI (168)

Least Rainy U.S. Cities

Listed below are the U.S. cities with the least amount of rain. The average number of days with rain is shown parenthetically.

  1. Yuma, AZ (17)
  2. Las Vegas, NV (26)
  3. Bishop, CA (29)
  4. Santa Barbara, CA (30)
  5. Long Beach, CA (32)

Mechanical processes are also at work. Warm, buoyant air may be forced upward by the wedge-like undercutting of a cold air mass, or lifted by a mountain slope. Convergence

It is estimated that lightning flashes occur somewhere on Earth about 100 times each second. (Photo by C. Clark. Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).)
It is estimated that lightning flashes occur somewhere on Earth about 100 times each second.
(Photo by C. Clark. Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).)

of horizontal winds into the center of a low-pressure area forces warm air near that center upward. Where these processes are sustained, and where lifting and cooling of the moist air continues, minor turbulence may generate a cumulus cloud, and then a towering cumulonimbus system.

The pattern of the vertical air movement in the center of the cumulus or cumulonimbus cloud system mimics the behavior of each convective cell. Most thunderstorms have, at maturity, a series of several cells, each following a life cycle characterized by changes in wind direction, development of precipitation and electrical charge, and other factors.

In the first stage of thunderstorm development, an updraft drives warm air up beyond condensation levels, where clouds form, and where continued upward movement produces cumulus formations. The updraft develops in a region of gently converging surface winds in which the atmospheric pressure is slightly lower than in surrounding areas. As the updraft continues, air flows in through the cloud's sides in a process called entrainment, mixing with and feeding the updraft. The updraft may be further augmented by a chimney effect produced by winds at high altitude.

Energy from water

A developing thunderstorm also feeds on another source of energy. Once the cloud has formed, the phase changes of water result in a release of heat energy, which increases the momentum of the storm's vertical development. The rate at which this energy is released is directly related to the amount of gaseous water vapor converted to liquid water.

As water vapor in the burgeoning cloud is raised to saturation levels, the air is cooled sufficiently to liberate solid and liquid particles of water, and rain and snow begin to fall within the cloud. The cloud tower rises above 1.8–3.1 mi where fibrous streamers of frozen precipitation elements appear; this apparent ice phase is thought to be a condition of thunderstorm precipitation. The formation and precipitation of particles large enough and in sufficient quantity to fall against the updraft marks the beginning of the second, mature stage of a thunderstorm cell.

A thunderstorm's mature stage is marked by a transition in wind direction within the storm cells. The prevailing updraft, which initiated the cloud's growth, is joined by a downdraft generated by precipitation. The downdraft is fed and strengthened, as the updraft was, by the addition of entrained

(Drawing by Argosy.)
(Drawing by Argosy.)

air, and by evaporational cooling caused by interactions of entrained air and falling precipitation. The mature storm dominates the electrical field and atmospheric circulation for several miles around. Lightning—the discharge of electricity between large charges of opposite signs—occurs soon after precipitation begins, a clue to the relationship of thunderstorm electrification and formation of ice crystals and raindrops.

At maturity, a thunderstorm cloud is several miles across its base and may tower to altitudes of 40,000 ft or more. The swift winds of the upper troposphere shred the cloud top into the familiar anvil form, visible in dry regions as lonely giants, or as part of a squall line.

On the ground directly beneath a storm system, the mature stage is initially felt as rain, which is soon joined by the strong downdraft. The downdraft spreads out from the cloud in gusting, divergent winds, and brings a marked drop in temperature. Even where the rain has not reached the ground, this cold air stream flowing over the surface can identify a thunderstorm's mature stage. This is nature's warning that a thunderstorm is in its most violent phase. It is in this phase that a thunderstorm unleashes its lightning, hail, heavy rain, high wind, and—most destructive of all— its tornado. But even as it enters maturity, the storm has begun

(Drawing by Argosy.)
(Drawing by Argosy.)

to die. The violent downdraft initially shares the circulation with the sustaining updraft, but then strangles it. As the updraft is cut off from its converging low-level winds, the storm loses its source of moisture and heat energy. Precipitation weakens and stops, and the cold downdraft ceases. And the thunderstorm, violent creature of an instant, spreads and dies.

Types of thunderstorms

Storms, based on their physical characteristics, can be classified into four basic categories: single cell, multicell cluster, multicell line, and supercell.

Though single-cell storms are rare and relatively weak, they can produce brief bouts of severe weather lasting 20–30 minutes; these storms are not well organized and are seemingly random in occurrence. In the unstable single-cell environment, oftentimes pulse severe storms form. Pulse severe storms produce brief heavy rainfall, severe hail and/or microbursts, and occasionally, weak tornadoes. Single-cell storms are difficult to forecast.

Like a single-cell storm, each cell of a multicell cluster storm lasts usually only about 20 minutes; however, the cluster itself can last for several hours. The multicell cluster, the most common type of thunderstorm, comprises a number

(Drawing by Argosy.)
(Drawing by Argosy.)

of cells moving as one entity; the cells continuously roll through different storm cycles at different times. The most mature cells are found at the center of the cluster, new cells form at the upwind (usually the west or southwest) edge, while the dissipating cells are found at the downwind (usually east or northeast) edge. Multicell clusters are stronger than single-cell storms, and produce heavy rainfall, down-bursts (wind speeds reaching 80 mph), medium-sized hail, and periodic tornadoes.

A long line of storms with a leading edge of strong wind gusts is called a multicell line storm, or squall line. Moving forward, the wind gusts of cold air force unstable warm air into the updraft at the stormfront's edge; heavy rain and large hail immediately follow. A large area behind this produces lighter rain. Squall lines produce golf-ball-size hail, heavy rains, tornadoes, and most notably, weak to strong downbursts.

The most severe (and rare) type of thunderstorm is the supercell. It is a highly organized storm consisting of one main updraft that can reach 150–175 mph. This rotating updraft is called a mesocyclone and works to produce extremely large hail (2 in), major downbursts (80 mph), and fierce tornadoes.

Microbursts

Microbursts are small-scale, hard-hitting downdrafts that result in both vertical and horizontal wind shears that can be extremely hazardous to low-altitude aircraft.

Thunderstorm Safety Rules

  1. KEEP AN EYE ON THE WEATHER DURING WARM PERIODS AND DURING THE PASSAGE OF COLD FRONTS. When cumulus clouds begin building up and darkening, you are probably in for a thunderstorm. Check the latest weather forecast.
  2. KEEP CALM. Thunderstorms are usually of short duration; even squall lines pass in a matter of an hour or so. Be cautious, but do not be afraid. Stay indoors (away from windows and doors) and keep informed.
  3. KNOW WHAT THE STORM IS DOING. Remember that the mature stage may be marked on the ground by a sudden reversal of wind direction, a noticeable rise in wind speed, and a sharp drop in temperature. Heavy rain, hail, tornadoes, and lightning generally occur only in the mature stage of the thunderstorm.
  4. CONDITIONS MAY FAVOR TORNADO FORMATION. Tune in your radio or television receiver to determine whether there is a tornado watch or tornado warning out for your area. A tornado watch means tornado formation is likely in the area covered by the watch. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or radar-indicated in your area. If you receive a tornado warning, seek inside shelter in a storm cellar, below ground level, or in reinforced concrete structures; stay away from windows and doors.
  5. LIGHTNING IS THE THUNDERSTORM'S WORST KILLER. Stay indoors and away from electrical appliances while the storm is overhead. If lightning catches you outside, remember that it seeks the easiest—not necessarily the shortest—distance between positive and negative centers. Keep yourself lower than the nearest highly conductive object, and maintain a safe distance from it. If the object is a tree, twice its height is considered a safe distance.
  6. THUNDERSTORM RAIN MAY PRODUCE FLASH FLOODS. Stay out of dry creek beds during thunderstorms. If you live along a river, listen for flash flood warnings from the National Weather Service.

Microbursts most commonly occur during convective activity. They can appear at the point of heaviest rain during a thunderstorm or they can occur within weaker convective cells with far less precipitation. The downdraft's cold air (usually 1 mi in diameter) accelerates as it descends from the cloud base (about 1,000–3,000 ft above ground), reaching its highest speeds about five minutes after initially hitting the ground. The resulting "curl" (air moving away from the impact point) accelerates further, and can extend to approximately 2.5 mi in diameter, creating a serious threat to nearby aircraft. A downdraft can reach top speeds of 6,000

A supercell thunderstorm. (Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).)
A supercell thunderstorm.
(Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).)

(Drawing by Hans & Cassidy. Gale Group.)
(Drawing by Hans & Cassidy. Gale Group.)

ft/min; the curl can be as strong as 45 knots, producing a 90-knot windshear.

Microbursts are not easily detectable by conventional radar due to their size, duration (no longer than 15 minutes), and because they can appear in areas without surface precipitation. Visual clues, however, provide proof of their existence. These clues include rings of blowing dust that often mark the impact point of a microburst; a rain foot—the "unfinished," outward distortion of the edge of an area of precipitation, suggesting the presence of a wet microburst; and a dust foot—the resulting plume of dust after the microburst hits the ground and moves away from its impact point. Multiple occurrences of downdrafts of this nature can continue for up to an hour; it is not uncommon for more than one microburst to occur in one area.

Dust Storm Precautions for Motorists

Dust storms, so common to the southwestern United States, can wreak havoc for motorists traveling in the area. The sudden dark-brown cloud with strong winds and debris is often to blame for tragic, chain-reaction accidents.

If a dust storm does develop, motorists should observe the following:

  • Pull off to the furthest edge of the shoulder, turn off lights and set emergency brake.
  • If conditions prevent pulling off the roadway, a motorist should proceed at an appropriately reduced speed, turn lights on, and use the center line as a guide. A motorist should never stop on the roadway.

Dust storms

Dust storms associated with summer thunderstorms are common in the southwestern United States and are found generally in the desert areas of western New Mexico, southern Arizona, and in the southeastern deserts of California. Dust storms develop due to the cool downdrafts of a thundershower that reach the ground and spread out in all directions, picking up dust along the way. Dust storms associated with late winter and early spring storm systems are common during March and April.

(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)
(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)

LIGHTNING

Lightning strikes Earth an estimated 100 times per second. The average annual death toll for lightning is greater than for tornadoes or hurricanes.

According to data assembled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), lightning kills about 90 Americans per year and injures about 260. Property loss—fire and other damage to structures, aircraft damage, livestock deaths and injuries, forest fires, disruption of electromagnetic transmissions, and other effects—is estimated at more than $100 million annually.

What causes lightning?

Lightning is a secondary effect of electrification within a thunderstorm cloud system. Updrafts of warm, moist air rising into cold air can cause small cumulus clouds to grow into the large cumulonimbus cloud systems we associate with thunderstorms. These turbulent cloud systems tower about their companions, and dominate the atmospheric circulation and electrical field over a wide area. The transition from a small cloud to a turbulent, electrified giant can occur in as little as 30 minutes.

As a thunderstorm cumulonimbus develops, interactions of charged particles, external and internal electrical fields, and complex energy exchanges produce a large electrical field within the cloud. No completely acceptable theory explaining the complex processes of thunderstorm electrification has yet been advanced. But it is believed that electrical charge is important to formation of raindrops and ice crystals, and that thunderstorm electrification closely follows precipitation.

The distribution of electricity in a thunderstorm cloud is usually a concentration of positive charge in the frozen upper layers, and a large negative charge around a positive area in the lower portions of the cloud.

Earth is normally negatively charged with respect to the atmosphere. As the thunderstorm passes over the ground, the negative charge in the base of the cloud induces a positive charge on the ground below and several miles around the storm. The ground charge follows the storm like an electrical shadow, growing stronger as the negative cloud charge increases. The attraction between positive and negative charges makes the positive ground current flow up buildings, trees, and other elevated objects in an effort to establish a flow of current. But air, which is a poor conductor of

(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)
(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)

electricity, insulates the cloud and ground charges, preventing a flow of current until large electrical charges are built up.

Lightning occurs when the difference between the positive and negative charges—the electrical potential— becomes great enough to overcome the resistance of the insulating air, and to force a conductive path for current to flow between the two charges. Potential in these cases can be as much as 100 million volts. Lightning strokes typically represent a flow of current from negative to positive, intra-cloud, and may proceed from cloud to cloud, cloud to air, cloud to ground, or, where high structures are involved, from ground to cloud.

The typical cloud-to-ground stroke we see most frequently begins as a pilot leader too faint to be visible, advances downward from the cloud, and sets up the initial portion of the stroke path. A surge of current called a step leader follows the pilot, moving 100 ft or more at a time toward the ground, pausing, then repeating the sequence until the conductive path of electrified (ionized) particles is near the ground. There, discharge streamers extending from the ground intercept the leader path and complete the conductive channel between ground and cloud charges. When this path is complete, a return stroke leaps upward at speeds approaching that of light, illuminating the branches of the descending leader track. Because these tracks point downward, the stroke appears to come from the cloud. The bright light of the return stroke is the result of glowing atoms and molecules of air energized by the stroke.

Once the channel has been established and the return stroke has ended, dart leaders from the cloud initiate secondary returns, until the opposing charges are dissipated or the channel is gradually broken up by air movement. Even when luminous lightning is not visible, current may continue to flow along the ionized channel set up by the initial step leader.

Ground-to-cloud discharges are less frequently observed than the familiar cloud-to-ground stroke. In these cases, step leaders generally proceed from a tall conductive or semi-conductive structure to the clouds; the initial leader stroke is not followed by a return stroke from the cloud, possibly because charges are less mobile in the cloud than in the highly conducting Earth. Once the conductive path is established, however, current flow may set up cloud-to-ground sequences of dart leaders and returns.

Types of lightning

Lightning comes in many forms. Streak lightning , a single or multiple line from cloud to ground, is the form seen

(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)
(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)

most frequently. Forked lightning shows the conductive channel. Sheet lightning is a shapeless flash covering a broad area, often seen in cloud-to-cloud discharges. Heat lightning is seen along the horizon during hot weather, and is believed to be the reflection of lightning occurring beyond the horizon. Ribbon lightning is streak lightning whose conductive channel is moved by high winds, making successive strokes seem to parallel one another. Beaded lightning appears as an interrupted stroke.

Ball lightning is in some ways the most interesting—and most controversial—form. Ball lightning has been reported in various shapes—from a luminous globe to a doughnut-shaped toroid to an ellipsoid. It hisses as it hurtles from cloud to Earth, maneuvers at high speeds, rolls along structures, or hangs suspended in the air.

The dual character of lightning—it carries high currents and produces destructive thermal effects—makes it doubly dangerous. The current peaks, which may reach magnitudes of 200,000 amperes or more, produce forces that have a crushing effect upon conductors, and which can build to explosive levels in non-conducting or semi-conducting materials like wood or brick. The continuous current produces heat, and is responsible for the numerous fires attributed to lightning. The peak temperature of lightning is greater than 50,000°F, about five times hotter than the visible surface of the Sun.

Lightning research

At the NOAA, lightning is the subject of considerable scientific interest. The severe storm warnings of NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) carry implicit alerts that lightning can be expected—and avoided. U.S. Department of Commerce scientists at NOAA's Environmental Research Laboratories are experimenting with lightning suppression techniques, measuring atmospheric electricity over the open ocean, and studying the apparent but elusive connections between lightning and other events in the atmosphere, ionosphere, Earth, and geomagnetic field.

THUNDER

Thunder is the crash and rumble associated with lightning and is caused by an explosive expansion of air heated by the stroke. When lightning is close by, its thunder makes a sharp explosive sound. More distant strokes produce the familiar growl and rumble of thunder, a result of sound being

(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)
(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)

Lightning Safety Rules

  1. Stay indoors, and do not venture outside unless absolutely necessary.
  2. Stay away from open doors and windows, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks, and plugged-in electrical appliances.
  3. Do not use plug-in electrical equipment such as hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, or electric razors during the storm.
  4. Do not use the telephone during the storm—lightning may strike telephone lines outside.
  5. Do not take laundry off the clothesline during the storm.
  6. Do not work on fences, telephone or power lines, pipelines, or structural steel fabrication.
  7. Do not use metal objects like fishing rods and golf clubs. Golfers wearing cleated shoes are particularly good lightning rods.
  8. Do not handle flammable materials in open containers.
  9. Stop tractor work, especially when the tractor is pulling metal equipment, and dismount. Tractors and other implements in metallic contact with the ground are often struck by lightning.
  10. Get off the water and out of small boats.
  11. Stay in your vehicle if you are traveling. Vehicles offer excellent lightning protection; however, avoid parking near large trees or power lines.
  12. Seek shelter in buildings. If no buildings are available, your best protection is a cave, ditch, or canyon. If in a wooded area, take shelter under the shorter trees.
  13. When there is no shelter, avoid the highest object in the area. If only isolated trees are nearby, your best protection is to crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from isolated trees as the trees can act as lightning rods.
  14. Avoid hilltops, open spaces, wire fences, metal clotheslines, exposed sheds, and any electrically conductive elevated objects.
  15. When you feel the electrical charge—if your hair stands on end or your skin tingles—lightning may be about to strike you. Drop to the ground immediately.

Persons struck by lightning receive a severe electrical shock and may be burned, but they carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely. A person struck by lightning who shows no vital signs can often be revived by prompt mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, cardiac massage, and prolonged artificial respiration. In a group struck by lightning, the apparently dead should be treated first; those who show vital signs will probably recover spontaneously, although burns and other injuries may require treatment. Recovery from lightning strikes is usually complete except for possible impairment or loss of sight or hearing.

(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)
(Courtesy of United States Air Force.)

refracted and modified by the turbulent environment of a thunderstorm. Because the speed of light is about a million times that of sound, the distance (in miles) to a lightning's stroke can be estimated by counting the number of seconds between lightning and thunder, and dividing by five.

The electromagnetic impulses of a lightning stroke produce whistlers—gliding tones that travel along lines of force in Earth's magnetic field from their lightning source in one hemisphere to a similar point in the opposite hemisphere, often echoing back and forth several times. Their sound is something like the whistle of World War II bombs, occasionally modified in a way that produces musical variations.

Hail

Hailstones are precipitation in the form of lumps of ice that form during some thunderstorms. Hail can range in size from that of a pea to a softball. Hailstones are usually round, but may also be conical or irregular in shape, some with pointed projections. While it takes about one million cloud droplets to form a single raindrop, it takes about 10 billion cloud droplets to form a golf-ball-size hailstone.

Hail is formed as ice pellets (which were initially snowflakes or frozen raindrops) strike supercooled water droplets within a storm cloud. The supercooled water flows over the ice particles and part of it freezes instantly. Some of the unfrozen water remains attached to the growing hailstone until it freezes, and part of it slips away. This continues until the weight of the hailstone can no longer be supported by the updrafts, and it falls to the ground. The multiple trips through up- and downdrafts result in alternating bands of clear and cloudy ice within a hailstone; as many as 25 layers have been counted in one hailstone.

Of the thousands of thunderstorms that strike the United States each year, only about 10–15% produce potentially dangerous hailstones. Hail-producing thunderstorms are most frequently found in eastern Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming (the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, observes the most hailstorm days per year, about 8–10); such storms also develop in the western plains, the Midwest, and the Ohio Valley.

Damage

Damage estimates from hailstorms alone reach up to nearly a billion dollars annually in the United States. The most costly single U.S. hailstorm struck on July 11, 1990, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and resulted in damages of $625 million. Golf-ball- and baseball-size hailstones pelted thousands of roofs, vehicles, windows, and other property.

Hail also causes injuries, but rarely death. In fact, during the twentieth century, only three deaths were reportedly due to hail—one was a farmer in Lubbock, Texas, in 1930; an infant in Fort Collins, Colorado, July 30, 1979, and a 19-year old man struck by softball-size hail in Lake Worth, TX, on March 28, 2000. Injuries are also sparse, but more common. In the last full year of statistical hail data (2001) there were 32 hail injuries reported in the United States.

Lightning myths and truths

MYTH: If it is not raining, then there is no danger from lightning.

TRUTH: Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. This is especially true in the western United States where thunderstorms sometimes produce very little rain.

MYTH: The rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being struck by lightning.

TRUTH: Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. The steel frame of a hardtopped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.

MYTH: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.

TRUTH: Lightning-strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information on CPR and first aid classes.

MYTH: "Heat lightning" occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.

TRUTH: "Heat lightning" is a term used to describe lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard.

Lightning struck the spot where this woman was standing minutes after she left. (Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).)
Lightning struck the spot where this woman was standing minutes after she left.
(Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).)

Weather Anecdotes

Can lightning hit twice, from the same storm, at the same location? Yes. On July 19, 1993, at about 4:30 P.M. , a mile and a half south of Winnsboro, SC, four people sought shelter during a thunderstorm. Lightning struck a nearby tree showering the car with debris. The storm weakened and the driver got out to clean the top of the car, saying "lightning never strikes twice in the same spot." As he touched the car handle to enter the car, lightning struck again. He was appeared to be dead, but people rushed over, administered CPR, and brought him back to life. The lightning blew the soles off his wife's shoes as she stood by the side of the car, but she was not seriously injured.

How rare was it that lightning would strike the same low ground location twice from the same storm and about the same time? A 50-foot structure will be struck about once every four to six years, and a quarter acre of flat land (a large residential lot) will be struck about once every 100 years or more. Any structure, no matter what its size, may be struck by lightning.

The moral of this anecdote is to stay indoors until you are sure the storm has passed. You can hear thunder when the storm is within 10 miles or so, and are at risk if you can hear thunder.

June 17, 1987 … Harrison Co., MS. A couple was walking on a beach. Two Air Force sergeants were eating lunch and saw the lightning strike the two people. They ran to the man and woman and found the man conscious, but his wife was not breathing. One of the sergeants began CPR while the other called the police. She survived thanks to the two men.

May 31, 1998 … WI. During the early morning hours, south central and southeast WI experienced an unprecedented and widespread downburst wind event known as a "derecho." Incredibly powerful, hurricane-force, straight-line winds, with peak gusts of 100–128 mph tore through 12 counties, and another eight counties had peak gusts to 60–80 mph. Newspaper headlines included: "Nature's Spring Cleaning," and "Traveling Back to the Dark Ages." A 48-year old Washington Co. woman was killed when a tree fell onto her house as she was sleeping. Another 32 people were injured during the storms.

July 28, 1999 … Lake Powell, AZ. At least two fishing boats were swamped and other Lake Powell visitors had to take shelter when violent thunderstorms pounded the area, creating swells between six and eight feet high. No injuries were reported, but flash floods on the lake's shore roared through a campground and closed roads. In another emergency, three adults and four children on their way from Rainbow Bridge to Warm Creek were forced to beach their boat when waves made the going too treacherous. A nearby boat took them in. In another incident, a boat took in 10–15 people for the night when their boats proved too risky.

April 9, 1995 … Cochise Co., AZ. A dust storm along Inter-state 10 near Bowie caused the death of 10 people and injured another 20 people as vehicles piled into each other in near zero visibilities.

March 28, 2000 … Tarrant Co., TX. A 19-year-old male was killed when struck by softball-size hail at Lake Worth while trying to move a new car. He died the following day from associated head injuries. He is only the third person directly killed by a hail strike since 1900.

May 23, 2001…Adams Co., CO. A strong, dry microburst swept a woman up into a swirl of dirt and carried her approximately 150 feet. The woman was in an open field, corralling a yearling horse, when the incident occurred. Fortunately, she received only minor injuries.

Standing under a tree is one of the most dangerous places to be during a thunderstorm. (Photo by Johnny Autery. Reproduced by permission.)
Standing under a tree is one of the most dangerous places to be during a thunderstorm.
(Photo by Johnny Autery. Reproduced by permission.)

This map shows the incidence of lightning strikes annually around the world. (Courtesy of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).)
This map shows the incidence of lightning strikes annually around the world.
(Courtesy of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).)

(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)
(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)

National Total Lightning Injuries by Year for Period 1959–2001

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Ann
1959 0 0 0 5 27 52 110 103 23 3 1 1 325
1960 0 0 2 11 12 70 28 50 16 9 4 0 202
1961 0 0 7 14 15 49 83 50 31 5 1 1 256
1962 0 0 3 5 39 38 90 49 12 6 0 0 242
1963 7 0 0 6 14 64 5 44 18 1 0 0 209
1964 0 0 10 15 14 38 99 53 8 1 1 0 239
1965 3 2 2 4 26 42 59 59 19 1 0 0 217
1966 0 2 1 2 37 39 42 44 15 1 0 0 183
1967 0 0 0 4 7 35 59 33 4 2 0 1 145
1968 0 0 4 2 16 52 117 155 14 9 1 0 370
1969 0 0 0 4 19 75 39 23 12 0 0 1 173
1970 0 0 1 5 40 40 82 43 43 4 1 0 259
1971 0 1 0 1 24 71 79 54 22 1 1 0 254
1972 0 0 8 6 12 24 72 54 24 2 1 0 203
1973 0 0 10 2 20 23 74 59 29 9 2 0 228
1974 1 9 1 3 12 27 56 51 12 1 0 0 173
1975 0 3 0 1 30 60 107 154 42 1 0 1 399
1976 0 1 0 7 16 39 73 68 13 1 0 1 219
1977 0 0 0 3 35 58 58 67 62 4 4 0 291
1978 0 0 5 3 19 100 73 54 42 5 0 0 301
1979 0 2 4 26 32 73 55 49 9 2 2 0 254
1980 0 1 2 11 11 49 50 134 16 1 0 0 275
1981 1 0 2 9 34 60 108 52 9 3 13 0 291
1982 1 0 2 6 38 20 54 32 11 4 4 2 174
1983 0 0 24 3 25 24 87 113 30 31 0 0 337
1984 0 0 7 5 13 43 80 53 44 7 1 0 253
1985 0 0 29 4 42 48 61 33 27 4 0 0 248
1986 0 2 4 2 15 68 112 43 22 3 0 0 271
1987 0 0 2 8 66 49 121 70 43 3 1 1 364
1988 0 0 1 14 22 53 133 63 19 5 1 0 311
1989 1 0 8 16 23 70 135 51 12 4 2 0 322
1990 12 0 4 6 10 43 88 62 25 1 0 1 252
1991 0 0 2 30 48 111 94 107 37 3 0 0 432
1992 0 0 4 10 41 38 80 46 31 42 0 0 292
1993 1 0 4 4 15 75 103 65 20 5 0 3 295
1994 1 7 6 32 39 151 156 106 55 19 4 1 577
1995 4 4 10 18 33 81 229 102 26 0 3 0 510
1996 2 3 4 12 36 102 66 49 21 6 6 2 309
1997 3 12 7 8 8 69 109 48 27 11 4 0 306
1998 1 3 9 24 28 81 69 45 16 4 2 3 285
1999 3 0 3 8 34 42 67 67 15 3 1 0 243
2000 0 104 12 12 56 180 132 140 68 24 0 0 728
2001 9 0 6 10 45 86 105 77 24 7 1 0 370
Total 50 156 210 381 1148 2612 3749 2874 1068 258 62 19 12587
Mean 1 4 5 9 27 61 87 67 25 6 1 0 293

(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)
(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)

Total Lightning Injuries by State and Nation for Year 2001
State Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Ann
Alabama 0 0 0 1 3 1 3 4 7 0 1 0 20
Alaska 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arizona 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Arkansas 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 4
California 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 4
Colorado 0 0 0 1 5 5 3 5 0 0 0 0 19
Connecticut 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 4
Delaware 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 3
District of Columbia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Florida 0 0 4 0 3 34 20 9 4 1 0 0 75
Georgia 1 0 1 0 11 1 3 0 1 0 0 0 18
Hawaii 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Idaho 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Illinois 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Indiana 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 2 0 0 0 6
Iowa 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
Kansas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kentucky 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Louisiana 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Maine 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 0 0 0 0 0 9
Maryland 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 5
Massachusetts 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Michigan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 25 0 0 2 0 0 27
Mississippi 0 0 0 0 1 3 6 0 1 0 0 0 11
Missouri 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Montana 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Nebraska 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Nevada 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Hampshire 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
New Jersey 0 0 0 0 2 1 2 14 0 0 0 0 19
New Mexico 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
New York 0 0 0 0 5 15 5 2 3 1 0 0 31
North Carolina 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 8
North Dakota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ohio 0 0 1 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 5
Oklahoma 5 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 10
Oregon 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pennsylvania 0 0 0 0 0 9 0 1 0 0 0 0 10
Puerto Rico 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rhode Island 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 4
South Carolina 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 6
South Dakota 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
Tennessee 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 13 0 1 0 0 15
Texas 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 6
Utah 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Vermont 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Virginia 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 2 0 0 0 0 6
Washington 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
West Virginia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 0 0 0 0 9
Wisconsin 0 0 0 3 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 7
Wyoming 0 0 0 0 0 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 6
Total: United States 9 0 6 10 45 86 105 77 24 7 1 0 370

(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)
(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)

Lightning Injuries by State, Rank, and Location of Occurrence
1959-2001 2001
Rank Open Fields, Ball Parks, and Open Spaces Under Trees Boating, Fishing and Water Related Near Tractors, Heavy Road Equipment Golf Courses At Telephones Various Other and Unknown Locations Open Fields, Ball Parks, and Open Spaces Under Trees Boating, Fishing and Water Related Near Tractors, Heavy Road Equipment Golf Courses At Telephones Various Other and Unknown Locations
State No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Alabama 15 81 29 66 23 5 2 8 3 1 0 15 5 107 38 8 40 5 25 0 0 1 5 0 0 1 5 5 25
Alaska 52 1 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arizona 26 97 51 17 9 4 2 11 6 1 1 4 2 55 29 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100
Arkansas 16 78 28 40 14 15 5 11 4 4 1 16 6 119 42 3 75 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 25 0 0
California 36 35 35 16 16 8 8 3 3 0 0 2 2 35 35 3 75 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 25
Colorado 9 173 39 55 12 25 6 18 4 30 7 12 3 132 30 2 11 6 32 1 5 1 5 5 26 1 5 3 16
Connecticut 31 11 9 25 21 4 3 0 0 3 3 5 4 72 60 3 75 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 25 0 0
Delaware 46 9 28 10 31 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 9 10 31 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 100
Dist. of Columbia 44 22 67 6 18 0 0 1 3 1 3 0 0 3 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Florida 1 474 29 164 10 210 13 73 5 53 3 38 2 598 37 15 20 18 24 15 20 0 0 1 1 0 0 26 35
Georgia 6 237 45 62 12 37 7 18 3 23 4 9 2 143 27 5 28 10 56 0 0 1 6 0 0 0 0 2 11
Hawaii 50 3 33 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 22 4 44 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Idaho 38 16 18 7 8 4 5 3 3 2 2 4 5 52 59 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Illinois 12 105 34 71 23 4 1 10 3 17 6 10 3 89 29 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Indiana 27 30 16 33 18 16 9 11 6 9 5 7 4 82 44 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 100
Iowa 28 31 18 21 12 5 3 1 1 3 2 3 2 113 64 1 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 75
Kansas 24 29 15 14 7 6 3 9 5 10 5 8 4 117 61 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kentucky 21 57 27 24 11 9 4 4 2 14 7 9 4 97 45 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100
Louisiana 14 108 37 41 14 26 9 9 3 1 0 3 1 102 35 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100
Maine 30 17 10 60 37 4 2 1 1 2 1 2 1 77 47 1 11 5 56 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 33
Maryland 25 54 28 35 18 26 14 6 3 3 2 1 1 65 34 0 0 1 20 2 40 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 40
Massachusetts 11 81 21 20 5 13 3 5 1 12 3 9 2 249 64 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 100
Michigan 2 239 34 105 15 27 4 37 5 35 5 19 3 250 35 1 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 50
Minnesota 29 22 13 22 13 7 4 11 7 14 9 11 7 77 47 2 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 25 93
Mississippi 20 85 37 38 17 32 14 4 2 4 2 15 7 52 23 8 73 0 0 0 0 2 18 0 0 0 0 1 9
Missouri 32 40 35 25 22 3 3 2 2 4 4 3 3 37 32 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Montana 42 15 29 6 12 8 16 5 10 4 8 0 0 13 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 100 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nebraska 39 26 33 2 3 1 1 5 6 6 8 5 6 34 43 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nevada 49 6 29 2 10 0 0 0 0 1 5 0 0 12 57 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Hampshire 37 23 23 3 3 0 0 1 1 4 4 3 3 65 66 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100
New Jersey 23 71 36 29 15 9 5 1 1 7 4 6 3 76 38 5 26 2 11 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 58
New Mexico 22 103 52 26 13 3 2 5 3 11 6 2 1 50 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100
New York 5 91 15 129 22 29 5 28 5 12 2 15 3 286 48 16 52 2 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 42
North Carolina 4 175 29 46 8 28 5 47 8 28 5 11 2 270 45 2 25 1 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 63
North Dakota 45 7 21 3 9 2 6 7 21 0 0 1 3 13 39 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ohio 7 110 21 93 18 18 4 5 1 43 8 13 3 232 45 2 40 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 20 2 40
Oklahoma 13 104 34 15 5 11 4 11 4 6 2 17 6 141 46 5 50 0 0 1 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 40
Oregon 47 10 40 0 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 1 4 13 52 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pennsylvania 3 207 33 51 8 6 1 10 2 14 2 9 1 324 52 1 10 9 90 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Puerto Rico 51 1 14 1 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 71 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)
(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)

1959-2001 2001
Rank Open Fields, Ball Parks, and Open Spaces Under Trees Boating, Fishing and Water Related Near Tractors, Heavy Road Equipment Golf Courses At Telephones Various Other and Unknown Locations Open Fields, Ball Parks, and Open Spaces Under Trees Boating, Fishing and Water Related Near Tractors, Heavy Road Equipment Golf Courses At Telephones Various Other and Unknown Locations
State No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Rhode Island 43 10 20 15 31 0 0 0 0 2 4 0 0 22 45 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100 4 0 0 0
South Carolina 17 70 25 23 8 11 4 8 3 5 2 7 3 155 56 2 33 1 17 0 0 0 0 0 50 3 0 0 0
South Dakota 40 14 21 5 7 4 6 9 13 1 1 2 3 33 49 1 25 0 0 2 50 0 0 0 25 1 0 0 0
Tennessee 10 145 37 86 22 4 1 17 4 8 2 17 4 115 29 11 73 1 7 0 0 2 13 0 0 1 7 0 0
Texas 8 211 45 52 11 42 9 11 2 5 1 7 1 139 30 0 0 4 67 0 0 0 0 1 17 0 0 1 17
Utah 35 32 30 28 27 4 4 7 7 6 6 5 5 23 22 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100 0 0 0 0
Vermont 48 7 30 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 15 65 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Virginia 18 44 16 43 16 10 4 2 1 9 3 11 4 149 56 2 33 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 17 3 50
Washington 41 24 45 8 15 0 0 1 2 0 0 3 6 17 32 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
West Virginia 33 36 32 12 11 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 55 50 9 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wisconsin 19 96 37 8 3 8 3 7 3 10 4 6 2 126 48 7 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wyoming 34 46 43 3 3 23 21 13 12 4 4 0 0 19 18 2 33 0 0 0 0 4 67 0 0 0 0 0 0
United States 0 3819 30 1667 13 714 6 459 4 434 3 352 3 5140 41 119 32 65 18 22 6 14 4 8 2 7 2 135 36

(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)
(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)

National Total Lightning Deaths by Year for Period 1959–2001
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Ann
*On December 8, 1963 the crash of a jetliner killing 81 people near Elkin, Maryland, was attributed to lightning by the Civil Aeronautics Board investigators.
1959 1 0 1 4 18 25 50 39 13 7 0 0 158
1960 0 0 1 5 7 33 25 17 9 0 0 0 97
1961 0 0 1 2 9 23 47 20 10 1 0 0 113
1962 0 0 3 6 27 20 26 28 9 1 0 0 120
1963 0 0 4 3 11 37 42 20 10 2 0 81* 210
1964 0 0 9 6 15 21 29 19 7 1 1 0 108
1965 0 0 2 4 12 34 39 28 4 2 0 0 125
1966 0 0 1 1 8 15 21 16 11 3 0 0 76
1967 1 0 1 2 3 26 21 14 1 2 1 1 73
1968 0 0 0 1 5 24 30 29 9 3 1 1 103
1969 0 0 1 5 13 17 27 13 14 3 0 0 93
1970 0 0 0 1 17 25 27 19 21 1 0 0 111
1971 0 0 2 1 12 27 33 19 19 0 0 0 113
1972 0 0 1 1 5 21 31 28 3 1 0 0 91
1973 0 1 2 3 10 24 31 18 13 2 1 0 105
1974 0 2 0 7 12 21 28 24 6 0 2 0 102
1975 0 1 3 3 11 19 28 18 6 2 0 0 91
1976 0 0 0 1 9 19 19 19 3 2 0 0 72
1977 0 0 0 4 9 19 16 35 14 1 0 0 98
1978 0 0 1 1 9 26 24 22 3 1 0 1 88
1979 0 0 0 3 11 4 20 16 4 3 2 0 63
1980 0 0 0 0 7 16 27 20 5 1 0 0 76
1981 0 0 0 4 5 13 19 19 5 0 2 0 67
1982 1 0 0 3 5 14 29 18 4 3 0 0 77
1983 0 0 1 2 4 8 28 23 8 1 2 0 77
1984 0 0 1 3 10 14 20 10 7 1 1 0 67
1985 0 0 0 5 12 12 26 8 8 1 1 0 73
1986 0 0 0 2 9 13 21 17 5 1 0 0 68
1987 0 0 0 2 14 18 28 15 7 2 0 0 86
1988 0 0 0 3 9 17 21 14 2 1 2 0 69
1989 0 0 1 1 9 14 19 18 4 1 0 0 67
1990 1 0 3 1 3 18 22 15 10 0 0 1 74
1991 0 0 0 2 8 15 23 19 6 0 0 0 73
1992 0 0 0 2 6 6 9 10 8 0 0 0 41
1993 1 0 0 0 6 9 11 12 4 0 0 0 43
1994 0 2 2 3 7 24 17 8 10 1 0 0 74
1995 0 0 0 6 7 11 30 19 12 0 0 0 85
1996 1 0 0 4 3 18 8 13 4 0 0 1 52
1997 0 1 0 1 6 10 12 8 4 0 0 0 42
1998 0 1 2 2 3 12 9 12 2 0 0 1 44
1999 0 0 1 3 7 8 15 10 1 0 1 0 46
2000 0 0 8 0 2 26 30 24 7 4 0 0 101
2001 0 1 2 4 3 7 6 11 12 0 0 0 46
Total 6 9 54 117 378 783 1044 784 324 55 17 87 3658
Mean 0 0 1 3 9 18 24 18 8 1 0 2 85

(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)
(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)

Lightning Deaths by State, Rank, and Location of Occurrence
1959-2001 2001
Rank Open Fields, Ball Parks, and Open Spaces Under Trees Boating, Fishing and Water Related Near Tractors, Heavy Road Equipment Golf Courses At Telephones Various Other and Unknown Locations Open Fields, Ball Parks, and Open Spaces Under Trees Boating, Fishing and Water Related Near Tractors, Heavy Road Equipment Golf Courses At Telephones Various Other and Unknown Locations
State No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Alabama 15 24 25 25 26 12 13 4 4 1 1 2 2 27 28 1 50 1 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Alaska 52 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arizona 24 32 47 8 12 5 7 1 1 4 6 3 4 15 22 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arkansas 11 37 32 23 20 11 9 10 9 3 3 0 0 32 28 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
California 37 8 33 3 13 2 8 3 13 0 0 0 0 8 33 2 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Colorado 10 58 49 22 18 5 4 5 4 7 6 0 0 22 18 1 33 1 33 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 33
Connecticut 41 3 19 2 13 0 0 0 0 3 19 0 0 8 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Delaware 42 5 33 0 0 4 27 1 7 0 0 0 0 5 33 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dist. of Columbia 48 2 40 2 40 0 0 0 0 1 20 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Florida 1 111 27 54 13 107 26 27 6 14 3 0 0 103 25 2 20 0 0 5 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 30
Georgia 16 25 26 23 24 14 15 7 7 5 5 2 2 19 20 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hawaii 53 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Idaho 35 12 48 3 12 2 8 5 20 1 4 0 0 2 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Illinois 13 23 24 19 20 4 4 9 9 8 8 1 1 32 33 0 0 0 0 1 20 1 20 1 20 0 0 2 40
Indiana 21 14 16 25 29 8 9 7 8 2 2 2 2 27 32 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100 0 0 0 0
Iowa 23 9 13 9 13 3 4 7 10 2 3 0 0 40 57 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kansas 26 19 31 1 2 5 8 10 16 2 3 0 0 24 39 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kentucky 18 27 30 12 13 4 4 4 4 2 2 1 1 41 45 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Louisiana 5 17 13 42 32 41 31 8 6 0 0 0 0 25 19 0 0 0 0 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Maine 38 0 0 3 13 7 29 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 58 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Maryland 8 13 10 9 7 16 13 1 1 0 0 2 2 84 67 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Massachusetts 33 7 26 3 11 1 4 0 0 1 4 1 4 14 52 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Michigan 12 29 29 26 26 12 12 3 3 10 10 2 2 17 17 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Minnesota 28 29 32 15 25 5 8 6 10 2 3 2 3 10 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mississippi 14 30 31 22 23 14 15 6 6 0 0 0 0 24 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100
Missouri 22 18 22 18 22 12 15 5 6 5 6 2 2 21 26 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Montana 34 8 31 3 12 3 12 6 23 0 0 0 0 6 23 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nebraska 30 20 45 2 5 4 9 11 25 0 0 0 0 7 16 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nevada 47 0 0 0 0 1 17 0 0 1 17 0 0 4 67 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Hampshire 45 2 25 0 0 3 38 0 0 1 13 0 0 2 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Jersey 27 19 32 8 13 14 23 2 3 4 7 2 3 11 18 0 0 0 0 1 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 50
New Mexico 20 40 46 15 17 8 9 0 0 1 1 2 2 21 24 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New York 6 22 17 31 23 17 13 5 4 7 5 1 1 50 38 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
North Carolina 3 43 24 25 14 23 13 6 3 8 5 1 1 71 40 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
North Dakota 44 2 17 0 0 0 0 4 33 0 0 0 0 6 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ohio 4 37 27 26 19 16 12 7 5 9 7 1 1 40 29 0 0 1 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 50
Oklahoma 17 33 35 11 12 17 18 7 7 3 3 2 2 22 23 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Oregon 46 4 50 1 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 38 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pennsylvania 9 39 32 17 14 4 3 5 4 13 11 2 2 42 34 1 50 1 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Puerto Rico 32 12 40 8 27 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)
(Courtesy of National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.)

Lightning Deaths by State, Rank, and Location of Occurrence [CONTINUED]
1959-2001 2001
Rank Open Fields, Ball Parks, and Open Spaces Under Trees Boating, Fishing and Water Related Near Tractors, Heavy Road Equipment Golf Courses At Telephones Various Other and Unknown Locations Open Fields, Ball Parks, and Open Spaces Under Trees Boating, Fishing and Water Related Near Tractors, Heavy Road Equipment Golf Courses At Telephones Various Other and Unknown Locations
State No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
*On December 8, 1963 the crash of a jetliner killing 81 people near Elton, Maryland, was attributed to lightning by the Civil Aeronautics investigators.
Rhode Island 50 0 0 0 0 1 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 75 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Carolina 19 17 19 22 24 10 11 10 11 2 2 4 4 2 5 28 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100
South Dakota 40 7 32 1 5 3 14 8 36 1 5 0 0 2 9 1 5 0 0 0 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tennessee 7 35 27 33 25 9 7 12 9 7 5 2 2 32 25 0 0 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Texas 2 78 40 29 15 30 15 12 6 5 3 0 0 40 21 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100
Utah 31 21 48 11 25 2 5 2 5 1 2 1 2 6 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Vermont 43 2 14 1 7 4 29 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Virginia 25 15 24 18 29 7 11 5 8 2 3 0 0 16 25 0 0 0 0 1 33 2 67 0 0 0 0 0 0
Washington 49 3 60 1 20 0 0 1 20 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
West Virginia 36 7 28 6 24 2 8 1 4 1 4 0 0 8 32 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wisconsin 29 15 27 4 7 9 16 5 9 6 11 0 0 16 29 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wyoming 39 14 58 2 8 3 13 1 4 0 0 0 0 4 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
United States 0 1038 28 644 18 485 13 241 7 145 4 38 1 1067 29 13 28 5 11 10 22 5 11 2 4 0 0 11 24



User Contributions:

Laura
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 7, 2008 @ 2:14 pm
WOW.. thanks for your thorough and amazingly detailed information. This was EXACTLY the info we needed to complete our report on Thunderstorms!
Ben P.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 6, 2009 @ 8:08 am
i just wanted to know if you could get a little more info about microbursts

ben
Ria
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 29, 2009 @ 1:01 am
Good info I wanted a list of us cities or town that are frequently hit by thunderstorms.how about Raleigh NC is it a thunderstorm town? if so how often and what months and what about hurricane do they get them also? Thank You Very, Ria
Maarten Brandt
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 25, 2009 @ 11:11 am
Dear Sir/Madam,

I am a very great Thunderstorm enthousiast for which reason I already often visited Florida during the rainy summer season. But as I have understood the African Congo bassin belongs to the most Thundery places on earth, if it is not the most Thundery place on this planet. So I am looking for more information about this part of the world as far as Thunderstorms are concerned. Do you happen to know a website with information on this point?

For every possible information I am of course very grateful in advance,

With all best wishes and regards,

Sincerely yours,

Maarten Brandt
Vondellaan 57
6824 NB Arnhem
The Netherlands
Henry Landau
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 18, 2012 @ 10:10 am
Is data available by month in addition to season. I hope to kayak from Pierre SD to St Louis next year either from mid June to mid July or from early August to early Sept. I would like to know which time period is preferable based on wind direction, wind velocity and thunder storms.

Thank you,

Hank Landau
Henry Landau
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 18, 2012 @ 10:10 am
Is data available by month in addition to season. I hope to kayak from Pierre SD to St Louis next year either from mid June to mid July or from early August to early Sept. I would like to know which time period is preferable based on wind direction, wind velocity and thunder storms.

Thank you,

Hank Landau
Eric
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 17, 2014 @ 7:19 pm
I have a really big question: What is the lowest wind speed ever recorded for thunderstorms?
Thanks in advance.
Skye
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 23, 2017 @ 10:22 pm
I was wondering what the average temperatures and humidity in a thunderstorm are.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA


Thunderstorms forum