Information about lightning:


What is Lightning?
Lightning is a form of electrical discharge between clouds or between a cloud and the ground.

The discharge may take place between two parts of the same cloud, between two clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. Lightning may appear as a jagged streak, a flash in the sky, or in the rarer form of a brilliant ball. Thunder is the sound waves produced by the explosive heating of the air in the lightning channel during the return.

Lightning Specifics
  • Most lightning strikes occur either at the beginning or end of a storm.
  • The average lightning strike is six miles long.
  • Lightning reaches 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, fours times as hot as the sun's surface.
  • A cloud-to-ground lightning channel can be 2 to 10 miles long.
  • Voltage in a cloud-to-ground strike is 100 million to 1 billion volts.
Did You Know?
  • Lightning is underrated as a risk because it usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property.
  • Lightning affects all regions.
  • Lightning kills more people on an annual basis than tornadoes, hurricanes or winter storms. It is second only to flash floods in the annual number of deaths caused by storm-related hazards.
  • Damage costs from lightning are estimated at $4-5 billion each year in the U.S. alone.
  • Around the earth there are 100 lightning strikes per second, or 8,640,00 times a day.
  • What is commonly referred to as heat lightning, is actually lightning too far away to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
  • There are approximately 100,000 thunderstorms in the U.S. alone each year.
Striking Statistics
  • Americans are twice as likely to die from lightning than from a hurricane, tornado or flood.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates there are 200 deaths and 750 severe injuries from lightning each year in the U.S.
  • 20% of all lightning victims die from the strike.
  • 70% of survivors will suffer serious long-term effects.
  • Annually, there are more than 10,000 forest fires caused by lightning.
Who’s at Risk?
  • 85% of lightning victims are children and young men aged 10-35 engaged in outdoor recreation and work activities outside.
  • 70% of all lightning injuries and fatalities occur in the afternoon.
  • Most lightning deaths involve people working outdoors and outdoor recreationists
  • Lightning in remote terrain creates dangerous conditions. Hikers, campers, backpackers, skiers, fishermen, and hunters are especially vulnerable when they’re participating in these activities.
  • Many survivors of lightning strikes report that immediately before being struck their hair was standing on end and they had a metallic taste in their mouth.
  • Long-term injuries from a lightning strike can include memory & attention loss, chronic numbness, muscle spasms & stiffness, depression, hearing loss, and sleep disturbance.