NOAA 2004-057
Contact: Greg Romano

NOAA News Releases 2004
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs

NOAA and Lightning Safety Awareness Partners Campaign to Alert Public

The official start of summer on June 20th marks the peak season for a deadly and yet dangerously misunderstood weather phenomena — lightning. The NOAA National Weather Service and Minnesota Twins All Star Center Fielder Torii Hunter, along with other partners, are campaigning to alert the nation to the dangers of lightning to help save lives. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The campaign kicks off during the nationwide Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 20-26), and continues throughout the year with the clear message “Lightning Kills, Play It Safe.”

“Lightning is an underrated killer, claiming more lives each year than tornadoes or hurricanes,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, NWS director. “Summer is the time when we enjoy outdoor sports with friends and families, but a lightning strike can turn fun to tragedy in an instant.”

Hunter is featured on a safety poster designed for schools, stadiums, sporting goods stores, and other outdoor venues with the message: “When you hear thunder, get indoors. With lightning, it’s one strike and you’re out!”

Although the summer months are the most dangerous, lightning casualties occur year-round. Overall, approximately 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur in the United States each year. During the past 30 years, lightning strikes have killed an average of 67 people each year—compared with 65 tornado fatalities and 14 hurricane deaths.

“All thunderstorms have the potential to produce lightning, so it’s up to all of us to heed the warnings,” Johnson said. “Lightning can strike up to ten miles away from a thunderstorm.”

The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source for weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NOAA National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate?related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


NOAA National Weather Service:

NOTE TO MEDIA: To access the NWS Lightning Safety Awareness Web sites, which contain safety posters, lightning safety tips, survivor stories and graphics, visit: