Jesse Ferrell

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Odds of Bad Weather Vs. Winning Powerball

December 1, 2012; 9:32 AM ET

The winning tickets to a $575 million PowerBall lottery have been declared. Last year when the Powerball Lottery was over $500 million, I sent out this tweet in frustration:

This year, I decided to dig a little deeper and get into some stats (which I'm not very good at, so feel free to correct me in the Comments below). First, before you can compare the odds of winning the lottery to something like "getting struck by lightning," you have to know those odds. The official source for that says: "Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years) 1/10,000." If you think about it, those are actually pretty good odds, compared to the odds of winning the lottery, which puts at 1 in 175,223,510 yesterday. So you're 17,500 times more likely to be struck by lightning in your life than you are to win the lottery. Of course that assumes you never play a PowerBall lottery again.

This page says "3 chances in 10 million annually" or 1 in 3.3 million that your house would be hit with an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado. If you play only this PowerBall, you're 52 times more likely to get hit directly by a devastating tornado this year.

A second opinion according to "those odds [of being hit by a tornado] are 1 in 4,513,000. It is more likely a person will die from a fall off a cliff-1 in 4,101,000-or will be diagnosed with leprosy-1 in 2,930,000." That means that you're 38.8 times more likely to be hit directly by a tornado than winning the lottery.

Our "WeatherWhys" video on Lightning states that the chance of being struck by lightning is 1 in 500,000, (350 times more likely than having the right PowerBall numbers). By the way, being struck by lightning is nothing to joke about, and we have more information on that in this video.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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About This Blog

Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.