National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Lightning is a major cause of storm related deaths in the U.S. A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest (heart stopping) at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage.

According to the NWS Storm Data, over the last 30 years (1989-2018) the U.S. has averaged 43 reported lightning fatalities per year. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.  More recently, in the last 10 years (2009-2018), the U.S. has averaged 27 lightning fatalities.

Odds of Becoming a Lightning Victim 
(based on averages for 2009-2018)

Estimated U.S. population as of 2019


Average Number of Deaths Reported


Estimated number of Injuries



Odds of being struck in a given year (estimated total deaths + estimated injuries)


Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years)


Odds you will be affected by someone struck (10 people for every 1 struck)