By Lisa Meadows

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A close crack of thunder demands your attention, a bright flash of lightning will stop anyone in their tracks – but is it enough to prompt you to take action?

“Anytime we have thunderstorms people are at risk of dying or being severely injured from lightning from a lightning strike,” said Brooke Bingaman from the National Weather Service. “In California, it may not always hit the news, but it can regularly occur within the state.”

So far this year, 35 people have died due to lightning strikes in the United States – surpassing the 10-year national average of 31. While none of those deaths occurred in California, that doesn’t mean we’re safe from lightning’s threats.

In recent years, camping has been responsible for the most lightning deaths in California.

There’s been one lightning fatality in the state every year for the past four years. Half of these lightning deaths occurred while camping.

“Especially in California, [lightning strikes] tend to happen a lot in the mountains. People will be camping up there or be doing other recreational activities,” Bingaman said.

Based on data gathered by the National Lightning Detection Network, California averages nearly 85,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per year. More misses than hits, but it only takes one.

“We can get storms and tornadoes in California. We may be at a higher risk because people aren’t thinking of it.”


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