National Weather Service
National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

How Dangerous is Lightning?

Lightning is a major cause of storm related deaths in the U.S. A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest (heart stopping) at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage.

According to the NWS Storm Data, over the last 30 years (1984-2013) the U.S. has averaged 49 reported lightning fatalities per year. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.

Odds of Becoming a Lightning Victim
based on averages for 2004-2013

Estimated U.S. population as of 2014

318,000,000

Annual Reported Lightning Deaths

33

Annual Injuries Reported

234

267

Estimated number of U.S. Deaths

33

Estimated number of actual Injuries

297

330

Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year (reported deaths + injuries)

1/1,190,000

Odds of being struck in a given year (estimated total deaths + injuries)

1/960,000

Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years)

1/12,000

Odds you will be affected by someone struck (10 people for every 1 struck)

1/1,200