Lightning Fatalities – 2008

In the Farmers’ Almanac and in past blogs, I have discussed the problem of deaths from lightning strikes. John Jensenius of the National Weather Service provided me with a look at lightning deaths during 2008. In total, there were 28, the fewest ever and well below the norm of 62 deaths. That is encouraging news and a tribute to the NWS   who alert the public to possible strikes and other organizations who work to keep people safe.   Here is a quick review of the findings:
 
100% (28) were outside
 79%  (22) were male
 36% (10) were ages 20-29
 25% (7) were ages 10-19
 36% (10) were under trees
 36% (10) were near water
 14% (4) were just outside a house
 

 

2008 Lightning Fatality Demographics

———————————————————————————————–

 

By State

 

In 2008, lightning deaths have occurred in 19 states.  Florida and Colorado lead the nation with 4 fatalities.  South Carolina, Maine, and Ohio have had 2 fatalities.

 

FL — 4

CO – 4

OH – 2

SC – 2

ME — 2

KS — 1

AR — 1

CT – 1

IA — 1

PA — 1

RI – 1

MA – 1

VA — 1

WI — 1

NC — 1

MS — 1

TX — 1

NJ — 1

MO – 1

———-

 

 

By Sex

 

In 2008, about 80% of the fatalities were male.

 

Male —  22 (79%)

Female — 6 (21%)

———-

 

 

By Age Category

 

In 2008, The majority of lightning victims were young.  Almost 65% of the victims were under the age of 30.

 

Unknown  1  (  4%)

 

 0- 9 –  1  (  4%)

10-19 –  7  ( 25%)

20-29 — 10  ( 36%)

30-39 –  4  ( 14%)

40-49 –  3  ( 11%)

50-59 –  2  (  7%)

60-69 –  1  (  4%)

70-79 –  0  (  0%)

80-89 —  0  (  0%)

 

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

By Day Of Week

 

In 2008, Saturday and Sunday had the most lightning fatalities with the two days accounting for about 43% of the fatalities.  

 

Sun — 6  ( 21%)

Mon – 3  ( 11%)

Tue — 3  ( 11%)

Wed — 1  (  4%)

Thu — 5  ( 18%)

Fri — 4  ( 14%)

Sat — 6  ( 21%)

 

 

By Month

 

In 2008, half of the total number of fatalities occurred in July.  Typically, the month of July is the peak in summertime activities, the peak in lightning strikes, and the peak in lightning fatalities.  Somewhat surprisingly, 2008 had only one lightning fatality after July and that was caused when a branch from a tree that had been struck by lightning fell on a woman.

 

          2008     2007     2006   NORMAL

Jan.  —      1        0        1        0 

Feb.  —      1        0        0        0

Mar.  —      –        1        0        1

Apr.  —      –        1        3        2

May.  —      2        5        5        7

June  –      9       12       10       14

July  –     14       10       16       18

Aug.  —      0        9        7       13

Sept. —      1        5        4        6

Oct.  —      0        2        2        1

Nov.  —      0        0        0        0

Dec.  –      –        0        0        0

 

YEAR        28*      45       48       62

 

* – Known Fatalities to date

 

Note: Normal is based on 30-yr average of 62 deaths per year (1977-2006) multiplied by the average monthly percentage of annual deaths from 1959-1994 as documented in NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS SR-193 with Dec 1961 plane crash fatalities removed from the data. In summary, deaths are primarily young men, outdoors.

 

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