This past July 4 holiday, a South Florida man was struck by lightning while grilling in his back yard. He fell into a canal and family members told a local news station he couldn't feel his legs.
He survived, but so far this year in Florida, four people have been fatally struck. If that sounds low to you, you're wrong. That number is equal to the number of lightning strikes in the entire country in '14.
Last year in Florida, 49 people were injured by lightning strikes, but there were just four fatal incidents all year, as the Tampa Tribune pointed out.
Florida paced the country with 129 lightning deaths between 1990 and 2003, according to the National Lightning Safety Institute. Second place? Texas, with 52 deaths.
"The reason we get so many thunderstorms in Florida is that the state is a long piece of land with warm water on both sides," Joe Dwyer, a professor of physics and space sciences with the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, told the Tribune. "During the summer, the sun warms the peninsula, and that brings sea breezes. The moist air collides, and that causes updrafts, and that leads to thunderstorms.
Nationally, fatal lightning strikes are down -- from 28 in 2012 and 23 in '13 (a record number) -- but the reason isn't necessarily because of changes in lightning.
"I don't think there are fewer lightning strikes," Dwyer also told the Tribune. "There is no evidence of any long-term changes in lightning. A more likely explanation is that fewer people are doing outdoor activities. If you want to be struck by lightning, it helps to be outside. There are fewer people doing outdoor activities that may put them in danger."
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