Lightning Safety Awareness Week
June 21 - 27, 2015


Graduation Ceremony So there you are outdoors. Whether it's a baseball game, putting laundry on a clothesline or attending a graduation could become vulnerable. How? While you are keeping track of the score, you may lose track of the weather.


Lightning tends to catch people off guard. It is quiet...but it is also deadly. In fact, lightning kills more people than tornadoes in an average year in the United States. Lightning. Photo Credit: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).


Statistics show that Arkansas is a Top 10 state as far as lightning activity. From 2004 through 2013, the state ranked 6th nationally for lightning strikes (averaging more than 850,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes per year) and ranked 4th for the amount of lightning per square mile (16.3 lightning flashes per square mile per year).



Locally, there were 125 deaths and 327 injuries due to lightning from 1959 to 2014. Statistics show that the deaths and injuries occurred mostly in the summer months...when people are most likely to be outdoors. Check out the statistics below...


Arkansas Lightning Statistics...1959-2014
Month Deaths Injuries
January 0 3
February 1 4
March 9 5
April 1 38
May 14 42
June 35 74
July 31 57
August 25 82
September 7 16
October 1 2
November 0 1
December 1 3


More recently, there were two fatalities and ten injuries due to lightning in 2014...

1.9 miles west-southwest of Enders (Faulkner Co.), April 24 - Six workers were injured by lightning at a natural gas well drilling site.
Gentry (Benton Co.), June 6 - Two people were injured by lightning in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant.
Etowah (Mississippi Co.), July 1 - A 16 year-old male was killed by lightning under a tree.
Lavaca (Sebastian Co.), August 29 - A man was injured on his porch when lightning struck a tree about 30 yards away.
Gravette (Benton Co.), October 9 - A man was injured by lightning while standing on his patio.
2.1 miles west-northwest of Gilkey (Yell Co.), October 28 - A 33 year-old male was killed while sitting under a tree that was hit by lightning.


Opposing charges in the atmosphere cause lightning. Where does lightning come from? Lightning is a part of an atmospheric battery surrounding a thunderstorm. It is produced due to the magnetic attraction between the base of a storm cloud (negative charge) and the ground (positive charge).


To go from cloud to ground, lightning must travel through air...a poor conductor of electricity. To make a connection, lightning will tend to go the shortest distance possible. Given this, lightning tends to strike tall isolated objects such as buildings, antennas and trees. Lightning will usually strike tall objects.


Lightning struck a metallic fence, with the current traveling along the fence. Cows touching the fence were killed. Away from the city and in open fields, the tallest objects may be you or your pets!
In the picture: Lightning struck a metallic fence, with the current traveling along the fence. Cows touching the fence were killed. The picture is courtesy of Ruth Lyon-Bateman.


Lightning fatalities per month and by age across the United States from 2006 through 2013.
Lightning Fatalities by Month   |  Lightning Fatalities by Age
In the pictures: Lightning fatalities per month and by age across the United States from 2006 through 2013.


Victims of Lightning (287 Fatalities) Across the Country (2006-2014)
Criteria Percent
Male 81%
During Summer (Jun/Jul/Aug) 71%



So now that you know the facts, how do you protect yourself from lightning? Education is the key to understanding lightning and to avoid becoming a statistic. For years, the National Weather Service has provided information to the public about lightning in hopes that citizens could make life saving decisions when confronted by lightning. Now the National Weather Service is taking it one step further.


In the poster to right: Leon the Lightning Lion says, "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!" Leon the Lightning Lion says, "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!"
The National Weather Service is so serious about lightning that it has a public safety awareness campaign called "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!" The campaign is designed to increase lightning awareness and decrease lightning deaths and injuries.


Useful Information
The National Weather Service in Little Rock  disseminated some useful information during Lightning Safety Awareness Week, 2014. Check out the information below...
Introduction (Sunday, June 22nd at 6 am CDT)
Lightning and Lightning Safety (Monday, June 23rd at 6 am CDT)
Lightning's Most Deadly Activities (Tuesday, June 24th at 6 am CDT)
Lightning Safety and Sports Activities (Wednesday, June 25th at 6 am CDT)
Lightning Safety at Work (Thursday, June 26th at 6 am CDT)
Lightning Safety Around the Home (Friday, June 27th at 6 am CDT)


Lightning Safety Banner For more on lightning...there is a very useful website available. To go to the website, click here. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.