In 2013 the number of direct lightning fatalities fell from 28 in 2012 to a record low of 23. Over the 10 year period from 2001 to 2012 on average about 35 people died each year from lightning strikes in the U.S., according to the National Weather Service. Going back over the last 30 years, 53 people died each year on average from lightning strikes. The significant decline in lightning deaths is due to fewer farmers working in fields, along with technological advances, better lightning protection and awareness of lightning safety.
The top states for lightning deaths in 2013 were Florida and Arizona, both with four deaths. Twelve additional states reported lightning deaths in 2013, including Illinois, Kentucky and Texas, each with two deaths.
LIGHTNING FATALITIES BY STATE, 2013
Lightning strikes cost about $674 million in homeowners insurance losses in 2013, down 30.5 percent from 2012, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. and State Farm ® found there were 115,000 lightning claims in 2013, down 24 percent from 2012. The I.I.I. puts the average lightning claim at $5,869 in 2013, down 8.3 percent from 2012. Georgia had the largest number of homeowner insurance claims for lighting losses in 2013, followed by Texas and North Carolina, according to the I.I.I.
2013 WEATHER EVENTS, FATALITIES, INJURIES AND DAMAGE (1)
TOP TEN STATES FOR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE LIGHTNING LOSSES BY NUMBER OF CLAIMS, 2013
Lightning Fires in Residential Vs. Non-Residential Properties
From 2007 to 2011 local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lighting, according to an analysis by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths and $451 million in direct property damage per year, according to the NFPA. Home fires accounted for 19 percent of the lightning fires, fires in non-residential structures, including businesses and other non-residential properties, accounted for 7 percent; vehicle fires accounted for 1 percent. The remaining 73 percent were in outdoor and unclassified properties.
Lightning fires in non-residential properties caused an average of $108 million in direct property damage each year from 2007 to 2011, according to the survey. The average annual damage in non-residential properties includes:
- $28 million in storage facilities
- $22 million in places of assembly, such as houses of worship and restaurants
- $19 million in nonhome residential properties such as hotels and motels
- $15 million in mercantile and business properties such as offices, specialty shops and department stores
- $15 million in industrial and manufacturing facilities
- $3 million in outside properties
- $3 million in educational and healthcare facilities
- $3 million in miscellaneous properties
FIRES STARTED BY LIGHTNING BY TYPE OF STRUCTURE, 2007-2011 (1)
For more information on lightning, please see The Lightning Protection Institute.