U.S. May Have Lowest Amount of Deaths from Lightning this Year
The United States is on pace to having the fewest recorded deaths from lightning strikes in a single year.
14 people have died from lightning strikes in the US so far this year, ranging in age from 9-76. (Zero in Iowa in 2020) Since peak lightning season in the U.S. occurs during the summer months, the worst is –hopefully– behind us.
On average, 26 people die from lightning strikes and about 234 are injured each year, according to the National Lightning Safety Council.
So, why are there fewer deaths from lightning this year?
There's been less lightning activity. Lightning tracked by vaisala says that lightning in the continental United States decreased by nearly 17% so far this year.
Perhaps another reason for the fewer deaths --- the pandemic limited much of the population from participating in outdoor activities. About 54% of lightning fatalities between 2006 and 2019 happened while people engaged in outdoor activities, such as fishing, being at the beach, sports, camping and farming. (A 28-year-old in Missouri died this year while playing soccer)
Between 1959 and 2016, Iowa had 74 deaths from lightning, ranking 24th in the nation. In that time period, Florida was #1 with 491 deaths – more than twice the amount than the second-ranked state, Texas. (221)
However, in 2019, Iowa ranked eighth in the amount of lightning strikes in the United States with over 3.6 million. Last year, Texas had the most lightning strikes with over 16 million, according to earthnetworks.com.
According to the Lightning Safety Council, the odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime is 1 in 15,900.