Quick Statistics about Lightning


  • Males account for 80% of all fatalities
  • 8% of lightning fatalities happen to hikers and campers
  • 70% of lightning fatalities happen in June, July, and August
  • July has the highest fatality rate, followed by June and August
  • You can be electrocuted by being within 60′ of a lightning strike
  • Many lightning victims can be saved by performing CPR
  • Hiding under a rock overhang is highly risky
  • Being on a summit or ridge line is highly risky
  • Laying on the ground increases your risk of dying
  • Lightning often strikes the same place
  • Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the storm
  • If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning
  • Lightning often strikes where it isn’t raining
  • If you are touching a person when they are struck, you too will be electrocuted
  • After a person has been struck, it is safe to touch them
  • A direct strike from lightning is the most deadly
  • The heat from lightning can be up to 50,000F
  • 10% of people struck by lightning die
  • You have a 1 in 12,000 chance of being struck by lightning during your lifetime
  • Hikers have a much higher chance of being struck by lightning in their lifetime
  • Thunder travels at 1 mile per 5 seconds. 10 seconds means that the strike is 2 miles away
  • Lightning is on the average 300 million volts and 30,000 amps
  • Lightning travels 90,000 miles per SECOND
  • Lightning bolts are 1-2 inches in diameter
  • The return stroke of lightning (the light) is 3-30 feet in diameter
  • There are 25 million lightning strikes each year
  • If your hair stands on end, you are about to be struck by lightning
  • If you have a metallic taste in your mouth, you are about to be struck by lightning
  • Forest Ranger Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times
  • Lightning will often spiral down a tree
  • If lightning finds an opening in the tree, it will often cause the tree to explode
  • The actual lightning bolt is invisible – The return stroke is the visible light that you see


Understanding the Lightning Risk by Location

When you realize that a thunderstorm is approaching, you need to reduce your risk of being struck by lightning. But, even if you are able to get to a low-risk location, you will have a risk. Listed below is areas of risk:

Very High Risk Areas:

  • Mountain summits
  • On the Mountain side that the storm is approaching
  • Being on or inside a metal Fire Tower
  • Next to a metal fence or barb wire in a field

High Risk Areas:

  • On the top of a clove (like the Kaaterskill Clove)
  • False summits
  • Under the tallest tree in the area or field
  • Somewhere on a lake or pond
  • By trees next to a lake or pond
  • Fields or open areas
  • Caves

Moderate Risk Areas:

  • Lower part of Mountains slopes
  • In a forest where with equal height trees

Lower Risk Areas:

  • Bottom of a clove (like Kaaterskill Clove)
  • In a deep gully (like Platte Clove)

Low Risk Areas:

  • In a structure like a house or Ranger Cabin
  • In a car or truck


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