Lightning Facts page of the Colorado Lightning Resource Page
Lightning Facts for the World:
Lightning Capital of the World: Tropical Africa Why? Lightning storms typically occur in these warm humid locations many days of the year. (see United States section below to find out what State in the United States is #1). Click here for more information.
Lightning Facts for the United States:
In an average year, over 22 million cloud to ground lightning flashes hit the contiguous United States and surrounding coastal waters (R. Holle/NSSL, personal communication).
Across the United States, most lightning casualties occur between 12 noon and 4 pm local time. (Curran et al 1997)
When people are mortally wounded by a lightning flash, 91% of the time it is only 1 person that is killed. (Curran et al 1997). On a related topic, most of the time, when lightning hits the ground and causes casualties to people, usually only 1 person is affected. (Holle et al 1996)
STORM DATA is estimated to under report lightning deaths by at least 28%, and injuries requiring hospitalization by at least 42%. (Lopez et al, 1993)
It is estimated 307,000 lightning claims are filed per year across the United States. It is also estimated lightning causes over $330,000,000 a year across the United States (1996 Dollars) Holle et al 1996.
In a study by Holle et al 1996. , it was found that there was 367 more times more damage than what was reported in STORM DATA (Damage was 27 million dollars in STORM DATA, while it is estimated to be more like 330 million).
National lightning detection network data in recent years was used to estimate that...
United States. (Curran 1997)
Your chances of being struck by lightning in the United States is 1 in 600,000 (NOAA)
Lightning Facts for Colorado:
Approximately 494,000 cloud to ground lightning flashes occur in Colorado every year. Colorado ranks 26th in the nation (Ron Holle, Global Atmospherics, quoted from the Rocky Mountain News, 30th June, 2001)
In a study in the Denver, Colorado area, it was found 1 out of every 52 lightning flash results in an insurance claim, It is estimated nationwide, that 1 claim is filed for every 57 Cloud to Ground (CG) lightning flashes. (Holle et al, 1996)
In a study of Colorado lightning storms, it was found that the first lightning strike usually occurs in the mountains, around 11 am MDT. (Lopez et. al., 1990)
In a 1 year study of Northeast Colorado lightning storms, it was found that the lightning activity on a day to day basis varied quite extensively, Some days had some flashes, while other days had many flashes. 123,663 flashes were counted during this year (some data was missing). The maximum amount of lightning occurs between 4 and 5 pm mst (21%). As with previous studies, the lightning normally begins around 11am (~32% of the time). Very little lightning occurred between 3am and 11 am. (Lopez 1986)
Click here to look at data collected for Colorado in August 1999.
General Lightning Facts: (From NOAA, unless otherwise noted)
Number of thunderstorms occurring at any given moment - 2000
Number of lightning strikes every second - 100
Number of lightning strikes per day - 8 Million
Number of thunderstorms in the USA per year - 20 Million
Number of VOLTS in a lightning flash - 30 million (R. Holle/NSSL - personal communication)
Number of AMPS in a lightning flash - between 10,000 and 200,000
The average lightning flash would light a 100 watt light bulb for 3 months.
Lightning has been documented to strike over 25 miles away from the actual thunderstorm.
Curran, Holle & Lopez: 1997. Lightning fatalities, injuries and damage reports in the United States, 1959-1994. NOAA technical Memorandum NWS SR 193. Contact: Nat'l Tech. Info. Service, 5385 Port Royal road, Springfield, VA 22161 to purchase this document.