Western Whatcom County
... Lightning fatalities in 2013 - a new record low...
2013 set a new record for the fewest lightning deaths in a year in
the U.S. Only 23 fatalities were directly attributed to lightning in
the country. The previous record low was in 2011 with 26 fatalities.
Florida and Arizona led the nation with four fatalities each in
2013... followed by Texas... Illinois and Kentucky with two each. Nine
other states had one fatality each. Details of the 2013 fatalities
can be found at http://www.Lightningsafety.NOAA.Gov/fatalities.Htm
Of the 23 fatalities... 17 were male and 6 were female with Ages
ranging from 8 to 66. Seven fatalities were in the 50 to 59 age
category while the age 20 to 29 and 30 to 39 categories each had six
fatalities. Thirteen of the 23 victims were enjoying outdoor leisure
activities prior to being struck with fishing topping the list with
Washington had no lightning fatalities in 2013. The last lightning
fatality in the state was in 1996. There were two lightning injuries
last year including a motorcyclist who was struck while driving on
Interstate-5 near Chehalis on September 5th. The other victim was
hit by lightning near Shelton on the same day.
The National oceanic and atmospheric administration - NOAA - has
conducted a National lightning safety program since 2001. Thanks to
partners in the media... the emergency management community... and
various sports and recreational organizations... lightning fatalities
and injuries have declined so far this century when compared to the
20th century. From 1940 to 2000... the average number of lightning
fatalities in the U.S. Was 145. In the last 30 years... that average
has dropped to 52.
Western Washington averages about 10 thunderstorms per year. Last
year was above average including the lightning episodes in early
August and again two periods of lightning in September that included
the seahawks/49ers game that was paused by lightning.
Washington averages less than one lightning fatality every 5 years.
Most of those fatalities were the result of people seeking shelter
from the rain under a tree and then the tree gets struck by
lightning. Off all the seasons during the year... Spring is when our
air mass tends to be unstable most often. When we have an unstable
air mass that results in showers and thunderstorms... go indoors if
you can. Avoid being near trees or other tall objects that tend to
get hit by lightning.
When thunder roars... go indoors. Lets keep that no fatalities from
lightning streak going!