The United States had 26 people die from lightning strikes in 2015. The months of June, July, and August represent the peak season of lightning strikes in the country, and the period when the majority of the deadly strikes were recorded. The states found in the southeast of the country are most prone to lightning strikes since they present the ideal conditions for the formation of thunderstorms, the meeting of cool air from the west with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico.
Top Five Most Lightning Prone US States
Florida leads as the most lightning-prone state in the country, as it experiences an average 25.3 lightning strikes for every square mile. The state witnesses an average of 1.45 million lightning strikes each year, the highest in the country. More than 62 deaths have been recorded over the past decade, which is attributed to lightning strikes. The location of the state is to blame for its high incidents of lightning. Florida sits between the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and the sea breezes combined with the tropical heat and humidity make the ideal conditions for thunderstorms.
Louisiana experiences an average of 0.942 million lightning strikes each year. While Oklahoma exceeds the annual number of lightning strikes, Louisiana is recognized as second in America’s most lightning-prone states due to the high intensity of strikes; 20.3 strikes for every square mile. Lightning strikes have killed nine people in Louisiana in the past ten years. Four of the deaths were recorded in 2016, which was, according to some meteorologists, one of the deadliest in the recent past.
In July 2018, a church in Mississippi which had stood for about two centuries went up in flames after it was struck by lightning. The lightning strike that destroyed the historic church was one of the more than 0.856 million lightning strikes recorded each year in the third-most lightning-prone state in the country. Mississippi records an average of 18 lightning strikes for every square mile per year. Lightning strikes have caused ten deaths in the state over the past decade.
Alabama is recognized as among the states most prone to lightning in the United States. More than 0.824 million strikes are recorded in Alabama each year, translating to about 15.9 lightning strikes for every square mile. Lightning strikes have caused the deaths of 17 people over the last ten years in Alabama, which is more than the lightning fatalities recorded in Mississippi and Louisiana over the same period. This statistic makes Alabama one of the deadliest states in the country in lightning fatalities.
South Carolina/ Oklahoma
Oklahoma and South Carolina are tied as the fifth-most lightning prone states in the country, each having 14.6 strikes for every square mile annually. However, the total number of strikes recorded each year is higher in Oklahoma which has over 1.017 million strikes each year, compared to the over 0.451 million strikes recorded in South Carolina annually. South Carolina experiences more fatalities of the two states, with 12 people being fatally struck over the past decade. In contrast, Oklahoma had only four fatal strikes over the same period.
Deadliest States in Lightning Fatalities
Florida and Louisiana are the most prone to lightning strikes in the country. The two states are also the most dangerous in lightning fatalities. 142 people have been killed by lightning strikes in Louisiana since 1959 while Florida has witnessed 477 fatal strikes over the same period. Scientists believe that the high number of deaths in the two states is caused by the lightning season correlating with the period when there are increased outdoor activities.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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