National Weather Association Policy Statement on Lightning Safety Education

The National Weather Association Council approved this policy statement on lightning safety education and requests the support of NWA members in implementing it.

Lightning is an underrated weather hazard. It is the second leading cause of storm-related deaths in the U.S., exceeded only by floods. In an average year, lightning kills more people in the United States than tornadoes or hurricanes. Of the estimated 1,000 people who are struck by lightning each year in the U.S, only 10% are killed, but survivors may suffer life-long disabilities.

The majority of lightning casualties (deaths and injuries) are preventable. Therefore, all NWA members are encouraged to proactively educate the public on the threat of lightning and on lightning safety. Radio and Television weathercasters and teachers, with their access to large segments of the public, can be especially effective in this effort. By increasing efforts to educate the public about the dangers of lightning, NWA members could substantially decrease the number of lightning casualties.

Safety information is posted on this Web site page: to assist members in lightning safety education activities. Although it would be optimal to include lightning safety information any time thunderstorms are predicted, "Lightning Safety Awareness Week," started by NOAA's National Weather Service and its partnering organizations in the year 2000, occurs during the last full week in June each year and is a good time to stress lightning safety education. Lightning safety education is easy, can be highly effective, costs little, and may make the greatest impact in decreasing weather-related deaths and injuries.

Approved: May 2003, Bill Read NWA President.

Lightning Links

LIGHTNING — the underrated killer!

Lightning Safety Awareness Week — the last full week in June for the United States     In 2015 it runs June 21–27

NWS Blog regarding the Lightning Crouch as not providing a significant level of safety

See for fact sheets, statistics and much more.

Fatality statistics are detailed at:

Michael P. Utley is a lightning strike survivor and founder of

Cooper, M. A., 2001: Disability, not death, is the main problem with lightning injury. Natl. Wea. Dig., 25:1-2, 43-47.

Cooper, M. A., S. Marshburn, Sr., and J. Marshburn, 2001: Lightning strike and electric shock survivors international. Natl. Wea. Dig., 25:1-2, 48-50.

NWA Remote Sensing Committee information and links, including realtime lightning strike data

Lightning and Atmospheric Research at the Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC)

Ball Lightning does exist — from USATODAY

NOAA's National Severe Storms Lab has more on lightning research

Lightning Strike & Electric Shock Survivors International, Inc. — a support group for survivors and their families

Sprites and Lightning — courtesy of member Walt Lyons

Where Lightning Strikes — from NASA, about lightning mapping from orbiting sensors

National Lightning Safety Institute (NLSI)

The ILDC/ILMC (International Lightning Detection Conference/International Lightning Meteorology Conference) is a scientific conference focused on lightning. Organized every other year, the conference brings together global participants to present new lightning detection technologies, research findings, and new applications. See 2012 presentations at:

Thunder and Lightning occur together in the atmosphere, but since light travels faster than sound, one normally sees the lightning first. As soon as you see lightning, count the seconds until you hear the thunder then divide by five to estimate how many miles away the lightning strike was. If there are 5 seconds, the lightning was about a mile away. (Sound goes about 1000 feet a second). In metric, if it takes three seconds to hear the thunder, the storm is about a kilometer away.

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

For specific safety precautions — read and heed:

The National Weather Association (NWA) provides this information for the benefit of members and guests. Reference in this Web site to any specific information, commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by the NWA. The NWA is not responsible for the contents of any "off-site" Web page referenced from this Web site. To provide feedback to the NWA staff and volunteers who maintain this page or to ask for further information on this topic, please e-mail