How many lightning bolts hit Wisconsin each year?

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How many lightning bolts hit Wisconsin each year?

Multiple cloud-to-ground lightning captured by C. Clark for NOAA with time-lapse photography.

Wisconsin gets hit by lightning about 300,000 times a year; most of that during the spring and summer. That’s about five flashes for each square mile in the state.

For about 20 years, the continental states have had a national lightning detection network. The network indicates that there are about 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes a year. This type of lightning accounts for only about 10 percent of total lightning flashes; most occur within clouds or from clouds to the air.

Nationally, approximately 300 people are injured by lightning each year, and 62 are killed by a strike. On average, lightning causes about one death in Wisconsin annually. Your chances of getting hit by lightning are approximately 1 in 1 million.

Lightning is dangerous, but you can decrease your risk of getting hit by taking proper precautions. If you are outside and hear thunder, you are at risk and should seek shelter in a large building or closed vehicle. Avoid being in or near high places or in open fields. Stay away from metal objects like fences, golf carts, and farm equipment or, if you are on a boat, any of the boat’s metal parts. In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under thick growth. In open areas, go to a low place and crouch down on the balls of your feet. Don’t lie down–if lightning strikes nearby, you minimize your risk of getting burned by crouching instead.

Steven A. Ackerman and Jonathan Martin are professors in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UW-Madison, are guests on the Larry Meiller‘s WHA-AM radio show the last Monday of each month at 11:45 a.m.