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Deaths From Lightning Strikes in US at Highest Since 2010 


Lightning illuminates storm clouds over the Philadelphia skyline, Tuesday, August 16, seen from across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey.

Lightning illuminates storm clouds over the Philadelphia skyline, Tuesday, August 16, seen from across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey.

Two people in the United States died over the weekend after they were struck by lightning.

The number of deaths from lightning-related accidents in 2016 rose to 29. It is the highest amount of deaths from lightning strikes since 2010, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The latest lightning-related deaths happened in the states of Colorado and Michigan on August 19.

Even though there are four months left in the year, the 2016 toll has already exceeded last year's 27.

Eight people have died from lightning in August of this year, making it the deadliest August since 2007. July is usually the month with the most fatalities. This year, 12 people were killed by lightning in July.

John Jensenius, an NWS lightning safety specialist, believes that the rise in lightning-related deaths was due more to people’s behavior than science.

"People are outside, enjoying beaches in the summer time. There's not much variance in lightning activity," Jensenius said.

Fridays have been the deadliest day of the week in 2016, which Jensenius said was unusual.

Usually, the highest number of incidents occur on Saturdays and Sundays, when Americans are outside barbecuing and enjoying other weekend activities.

Florida has had the highest number of lightning deaths in 2016, with six people. Louisiana followed with four lightning-related fatalities and then New York with three.

Deaths from lightning strikes were reported in the hundreds each year in the 1940s and 1950s because there were more farmers riding tractors in open fields, Jensenius said.

Since then, deaths from lightning have decreased significantly.

The chances of being struck by lightning in a lifetime remain low. About 1 in 12,000 people will be struck by lightning in their lifetime. Out of every ten people struck by lightning, one of them will die.

Even though the odds are low, Jensenius wants people to be more careful. "If you can hear thunder, you're close enough to be struck," he said.

Jensenius advises people to get inside during thunderstorms to avoid the risk of being struck by lightning. ​

I'm Mehrnoush Karimian-Ainsworth

This story was reported by Reuters news service. Mehrnoush Karimian-Ainsworth adapted this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

tolln. the number of people who are killed or injured in an accident, disaster, war, etc.

exceeded v. to be greater or more than (something) : to go beyond the limit of (something) ​

variancen. an amount of difference or change ​

significantlyadv. in a way that is large or important enough to be noticed or have an effect

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