Meteorologists: Pat Yourselves on the Back Again!

Meteorologists Save Lives From Lightning Electrocution

This graph shows lightning deaths in the United States since 1940. What makes it even more stunning is that this is actual number of deaths. It was calculated by meteorologists in Washington, D.C. 

The U.S. population in 1940 was 132 million. 

The U.S. population in 2019 was 331 million. 

The peak year of lightning deaths was 1944 with 440. If deaths hadn't begun decreasing, it would be entirely possible for more than 1,000 people to die in a bad year. 

The connection between lightning deaths is somewhat less direct than it is with tornadoes and hurricanes in that the National Weather Service does not make explicit lightning forecasts (AccuWeather and other private sector weather companies do). However, meteorologists do warn of severe thunderstorms (which can be prolific lightning producers) and meteorologists preach lightning safety ("when thunder roars, go indoors"). Demographics likely play a role. For example, fewer people work outdoors today than they did 1944. 

Regardless, this is a significant, life-saving accomplishment. 


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