Here's an impressive video of the lightning last night in Denver, Colorado (see also the Tornado and damage video at right):
We published an article last week saying:
"So far, 2009 has been a deadly year for lightning strikes. Two people were killed on Wednesday, bringing the total number of lightning-related deaths to six, with 50 injuries reported total. A Southwest Airlines plane was struck by lightning in California earlier this week. Is this trend of lightning strikes on people and airplanes abnormal this year? The number of deaths and the number of airplanes hit does not seem out of the ordinary this year. Actually, the number of lightning flashes is considerably less than what was reported this time last year. As of June 3, 2009, there have been 5,589,686 flashes, with 6,517,381 reported by June 3, 2008.* As for aircraft, 66 have reported lightning strikes so far this year. Last year, 55 reported lightning strikes to airplanes occurred through May."
We started out writing that article assuming we could find trends that suggested that lightning was worse this Spring because it seems like there has been a flurry of media reports in the past month. We thought maybe the speed of the storms (slow or fast) was causing more deadly lightning strikes. But we ended up answering the question of why there have been less lightning strikes than usual:
"One of the reasons for this could be colder-than-normal weather across the northern tier of the country that has suppressed the number of thunderstorms and has significantly reduced the number of tornadoes this year. The number of reported tornadoes so far this year is 685, just over half of the average annual amount, which is 1,297."
Here are some more stats to chew on:
THE GOOD NEWS: U.S. LIGHTNING DEATHS HAVE BEEN DECREASING SINCE 1943
Struckbylightning.Org says that 6 people have been killed and 50 injured by lightning in 2009 so far. In 2008, 27 were killed with 303 injured. The 2008 fatalities were 81% male and 70% adult. Sunday was the most likely day to be injured and under a tree was the most common location.
The National Weather Service puts the 2008 numbers at 28 deaths (compared to an average of 44) and 215 injuries, with over $60 million in property damages. For the 10th consecutive year, Florida was the most dangerous state (tying with Colorado's 4 fatalities). In general, lightning deaths have been decreasing since 1940. The most recent years with a high number of deaths were 2000 and 2002 with 51. Open areas outside were the most likely place to be killed by lightning.
Google News says that news reports of being struck by lightning have been increasing steadily since 1981, likely due to better communication between the public and news agencies, especially local television stations.
Search trends for "struck by lightning" have remained generally steady since 2005, spiking in the Spring and Summer.
As far as planes being struck by lightning, Google News searches showed these occurrences, averaging 6-8 reports per year but only 2007 had as many before today's date. Searching news is challenging because one big report can get spread across multiple media outlets. In the data below, I attempted to isolate individual events. (I'm not sure where we got the data above saying 66 in 2009 vs. 55).
Jun 6, 2009 Ireland
Jun 2, 2009 U.S.
Jun 1, 2009 Brazil (?)
Apr 11, 2009 England
Jan 24, 2009 Australia
Nov 4, 2008 Ireland
Oct 9, 2008 U.S.
Oct 5, 2008 Netherlands
Sep 3, 2008 Namibia
Aug 5, 2008 Ireland
Jul 8, 2008 U.S.
Apr 10, 2008 Ireland (Prime Minister)
Nov 23, 2007 Bahrain
Jul 20, 2007 U.S.
Jul 2, 2007 U.S.
Jun 8, 2007 Australia
Jun, 2007 Scotland
May 27, 2007 U.S.
May 5, 2007 U.S.
Feb 1, 2007 U.S.
Nov 29, 2006 England
May 14, 2006 U.S. (Kennedy)
May 8, 2006 Australia
*Data by Vaisala.
It's been two years since the unique SuperStorm Sandy crashed into the Northeast U.S. coast.
Today, I remember the earliest fall snowfall in central Pennsylvania history, which occurred 5 years ago, mid-month.
I don't believe this has ever happened in Hurricane history: Major Hurricane Gonzalo is striking Bermuda tonight, just as soon-to-be-hurricane Ana approaches the Hawaiian islands.
Recapping some of the things I've seen on weather radar over the years... birds, bats, butterflies, locusts, and mayflies.
Just after sunrise in the west Pacific Ocean last night, we were able to look down into the eye of Super Typhoon Vongfong.
An amazing display of asperatus clouds showed up in New York City this morning, but what causes them?