85th AMS Annual Meeting

Monday, 10 January 2005: 5:00 PM
Florida lightning deaths and injuries 1998-2003 and mitigation strategies using lightning data.
Jessica L. Fieux, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; and R. J. Sharp, C. H. Paxton, and J. A. States
Poster PDF (166.2 kB)
The number of lightning related deaths and injuries from 1998 through 2003 in Florida are conveyed with detailed information on death and injury monthly and annual totals, and time, location, and demographics of victims. The base information was gathered from the National Climatic Data Center Storm Data and local newspapers. From 1998-2003, 48 people were killed and 276 were injured by lightning, averaging 8 deaths and 46 injuries per year. For the years studied, 2001 was fifty four percent higher than the average of those years, while 2003 was twenty five percent above the yearly deaths. The spike in injuries in 2001 could be attributed to multiple injuries and deaths from single lightning strikes and increased thunderstorm activity during that year. Additionally, west central Florida was the area with the greatest number of deaths and injuries followed by south Florida. The first crack of thunder is a warning to seek shelter, but many reports indicated victims were struck by the first flash of lightning in a developing thunderstorm. To develop a strategy for short term lightning alerts, a study of developing warm season convection over Florida using infrared (11 micron) cloud top temperature indicates a threshold of -40C to -45C for lightning initiation. The latest version of the National Weather Service Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE) includes input of satellite data. The satellite grid can be automatically scanned using a script to indicate potential lightning initiation locations. This new tool should be combined with a continuing public education campaign regarding the dangers of lightning to mitigate injury and loss of life.

Supplementary URL: