The following is a list of the states in the United States that had the most total number of deaths by lightning from 1959 to 2012. In the United States from 1959 to 2012, a total of 4,002 people were killed by lightning.
The number of people who die each year from lightning in the United States has steadily decreased from 1940 to today. In the 1940s and 1950s, hundreds of people a year were killed by lightning. From 2003 to 2012, the average number of people killed a year by lightning had declined to 35.
The reason why is probably due to heightened awareness, as organized sports leagues in my state now have strict regulations regarding getting kids off playing fields when thunder is present. The decrease is also probably due to the fact that people generally spend less time outdoors today than they did years ago.
States in the United States with the Most Deaths by Lightning
1. Florida – 468
Florida easily leads the United States with the most total lightning deaths, as 468 people were killed by lightning in the Sunshine State from 1959 to 2012. That is understandable since Florida leads the country in the most number of thunderstorms annually.
Florida is not number one in terms of death rates per million people from lightning, though, as that distinction belongs to Wyoming, which is not on this list. Florida ranks fifth in death rates per million people from lightning.
2. Texas – 215
Texas ranks second in total deaths by lightning with 215 from 1959 to 2012. In terms of deaths from lightning per one million people, though, Texas ranks just 33rd. That’s because Texas is a heavily populated state.
3. North Carolina – 194
A total of 194 people were killed by lightning in North Carolina from 1959 to 2012. The Tar Heel State ranks 13th in lightning deaths per million people. I know it can rain a lot in North Carolina, but I would never have guessed the Tar Heel State would be so high on this list.
4. Ohio – 146
It does not surprise me that Ohio is on this list. I used to date a girl from Ohio, and I have been there enough to know the Buckeye State gets its share of thunderstorms. Ohio has a large population, and ranks just 34th in lightning deaths per million people.
T-5. Colorado – 141
A total of 141 people were killed by lightning in Colorado from 1959 to 2012. I’m surprised the number is not higher, as I’ve hiked in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and thunderstorms can come up on you incredibly fast in the mountains and there’s not much cover above the tree line. Colorado ranks fourth in lightning deaths per one million people.
T-5. Louisiana – 141
Louisiana is tied with Colorado for fifth place with 141 lightning deaths from 1959 to 2012. I would not want to get caught out on the Bayou in a thunderstorm. Louisiana ranks 8th in terms of lightning deaths per million people.
7. Tennessee – 140
A total of 140 people lost their lives in Tennessee from lightning from 1959 to 2012. That ranks seventh, and Tennessee ranks 15th in lightning deaths per million people.
8. New York – 138
I was born in New York and it does not surprise me in the least to see the Empire State on this list. Almost the entire state of New York, including New York City, is subject to some frighteningly bad thunderstorms in the summer. With a huge population base, New York ranks just 44th in terms of lightning deaths per million people.
9. Pennsylvania – 132
A total of 132 people were killed by lightning in Pennsylvania from 1959 to 2012. Due to its large population, though, Pennsylvania is another state that ranks relatively low in terms of lightning deaths per million people (38th).
10. Maryland – 126
From 1959 to 2012, a total of 126 people were killed by lightning in Maryland. That surprises me a little because Maryland is not a big state. Maryland ranks 18th in lightning deaths per million people.