Most of us have done it. You are fishing and hear a storm coming then wait until the last minute to finally leave. It seems every year there are one or two storms that have a ridiculous amount of lightning. I decided to research which states have the most fatal lightning strikes.
Graphic is from Noaa.gov
The top 5 states for Fatal Lightning strikes are:
- North Carolina
I'm not sure how many people would have guessed CO as being in the top 5. If you think of the strikes based on surface area. North Carolina and Florida are pretty dangerous. Even though these statistics are over a 9yr period it's alarming that my own state is in double digits. That's 2 deaths a year from lightning strikes. I could not find out what scenarios surrounded these strikes. Were people struck golfing, hunting, fishing etc..?
I tried to find evidence that the chances of getting struck by lightning go up if you're carrying a fishing rod. I couldn't find any evidence stating you are more likely to be hit. What I did find over an over was the fact that lightning usually seeks out the highest object in an area. So if you're fishing in a boat or on a lake with low banks you probably are a good candidate. My whole goal with this post is to encourage you to be safe and avoid lightning altogether if possible.
Here are some tips from National Geographic:
The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000.
During a thunderstorm, each flash of cloud-to-ground lightning is a potential killer. The determining factor on whether a particular flash could be deadly depends on whether a person is in the path of the lightning discharge.In addition to the visible flash that travels through the air, the current associated with the lightning discharge travels along the ground. Although some victims are struck directly by the main lightning stroke, many victims are struck as the current moves in and along the ground.
If your hair stands up in a storm, it could be a bad sign that positive charges are rising through you, reaching toward the negatively charged part of the storm. That's not a good sign! Your best bet is to get yourself immediately indoors.
If you can hear thunder, you are within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of a storm—and can be struck by lightning. Seek shelter and avoid situations in which you may be vulnerable.
Use the 30-30 rule, when visibility is good and there is nothing obstructing your view of the thunderstorm. When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within six miles (ten kilometers) of you and is dangerous. Seek shelter immediately.
People on or in or near water are among those most at risk during thunderstorms. Swimming is particularly dangerous, as not only do swimmers protrude from the water, presenting a potential channel for electrical discharge, but also because water is a good conductor of electricity.
Victims of lightning do not retain the charge and are not "electrified." It is safe to help them.
To find out more tips check out the National Geographic article "Flash Facts About Lightning."