In honor of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, we compiled data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), Spatial Hazard Events and Losses Database for the United States (SHELDUS) and the American Meteorological Society in order to pinpoint some of the most dangerous spots in the U.S. Take a look at our list and remember, “when thunder roars, go indoors.”
The state of Tennessee sees an average of 544,648 lightning strikes each year and according to the Spatial Hazard Events and Losses Database for the United States (SHELDUS), the major damage, injury and morality rates are concentrated in and around cities. With 140 lightning deaths since 1959, Tennessee is one of the most deadly states when it comes to lightning.
This western state experiences an average of 517,016 strikes a year and, since 1959, has had 143 lightning deaths, the most of any state in the west according to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Some experts have suggested that the high rates of injury and death in Colorado might be linked with people spending more time enjoying outdoor recreation.
Everything is bigger in Texas and apparently that applies to the lightning storms too. The giant state experiences an average of 2.8 million strikes per year and has had 218 deaths as a result of lightning. According to the SHELDUS map, the damage and injury from lightning storms seems to be most concentrated around major cities.
With an average of 769,372 strikes a year, Alabama tops the list of most dangerous places in the U.S. and the city of Mobile takes a lot of the heat. According to a report published in the American Meteorological Society, Mobile is number nine on the list of metropolitan areas with the most lightning fatalities per square mile.
With more than 800,000 lightning strikes hitting the ground of Mississippi a year, this state makes the top three. Luckily, though, Mississippi has experienced a relatively low mortality rate. Despite the frequency of strikes, 106 people have died since 1959. Warm, humid air and hot sunny days are partially to blame for the abundant storms.
Louisiana is the second most lightning-prone state in the country with an average of more than 827,000 strikes a year. Since 1959 there have been 142 lightning fatalities and the county with the most lightning-related incidents is East Baton Rouge Parish. According to the the SHELDUS map, that tiny county has experienced $2,442,500 in property damage as a result of lightning storms from 1995 to 2009.
The lightning hotspot of the country, Florida is struck by lightning more than 1.2 million times a year, according to the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) and since 1959 there have been 477 lightning deaths, which is more than double the number of deaths in any other state. Florida’s location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico is believed to play a big role in the formation and severity of lightning storms.