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What is Lightning?
Facts & Trivia
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Interesting facts, myths, trivia and general information about LIGHTNING.

National lightning detection network data in recent years was used to estimate that...

  • One lightning casualty occurred for every 86,000 flashes in the United States
  • One death occurred for every 345,000 flashes
  • One injury occurred for every 114,000 flashes

Overall, a rate of 7.7 casualties per million people per 100 million flashes was found for the entire United States.

A frequently asked question is "How likely am I to be struck by lightning?"  This is a seemingly simple question, but there is no single answer that fits everyone.  The average annual per capita strike rate in the United States is around 1 in 600,000.  However, this DOES NOT mean your odds of being struck are 1 in 600,000.

The odds of being struck vary from person to person, and are determined by a number of different factors.  Among the most significant are:

1)  Geographical location and climatology
2)  Diurnal and annual climatology
3)  Personal lifestyle/hobbies

Where there is a lot of lightning, there is an increased chance of being struck.  The corridor from Tampa Bay, FL to Titusville, FL (a.k.a. "Lightning Alley") receives the most lightning in the United States on an annual basis.  Furthermore, more than 90% of the lightning in this area occurs from May through October, between the hours of noon and midnight.  During this time of day and year, people in Central Florida who spend a large portion of their lives outdoors (e.g. construction workers, park rangers, golfers, campers etc.) are much more likely to be struck than anytime or anywhere else in the country.  On the other hand, thunderstorms are uncommon in the Pacific northwest, and are virtually unheard of during the winter months.  People in this region who spend much of their lives indoors (e.g. shopkeepers, librarians, bowlers, billiard players, etc.) might win the lottery before they were struck by lightning.  It is simply impossible to assign one single probability to every person.

For further insight as to the odds of being struck, go to The Statistical Assessment Service.



Additional Ligthning Facts:

  • Average number of thunderstorms occurring worldwide at any given moment - 2000
  • Average number of lightning strikes worldwide every second - 100
  • Average number of lightning strikes worldwide per day - 8.6 Million
  • Average number of lightning strikes in the USA per year - 20 Million
  • VOLTS in a lightning flash - between 100 Million and 1 Billion
  • AMPS in a lighting flash - between 10,000 and 200,000
  • The average lightning flash would light a 100 watt light bulb for 3 months.



How far away is lightning from you?

Use the FLASH to BANG method:

1...When you see the FLASH
2...Count the number of seconds to the BANG of thunder,
3...Divide this number by 5,
4...And this gives you the MILES the lighting is away from you.

It is recommended if the thunder arrives within 30 seconds or less from your location, you should seek shelter!


If it takes 15 seconds between the time you see a lightning flash and hear the rumble of thunder, then the lightning flash is 3 miles from your location (too close!!)