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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published January 27 2014

Weather Talk: Deaths from lightning have declined dramatically

An article in the current issue of The Atlantic reveals a dramatic decrease in the number of deaths from lightning in the United States.

Although record keeping was not perfect, it is estimated that about 400 people per year died from lightning over the first half of the 20th century. In 2013, there were just 23 lightning-related deaths – the fewest on record. There had been just 28 in 2012 and 26 in 2011, so the decline is obvious.

This is made more remarkable if you consider how the population of the United States has grown. There are several plausible reasons for the decline. People today are likely much better informed about the dangers of lightning. Sporting events are more likely to be delayed or canceled due to lightning than in times past. Another possible contributor is the change in American agriculture. There are fewer people today likely to be caught out in a field on a large iron tractor (without a cab) than in the past.

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