Lightning Strike Kills 1 on Siesta Key Beach, Florida

  • Jun 26, 2018

Lightning Fatality Report

It saddens us to report there has been another lightning fatality in the U.S. Lightning struck and killed one person over the weekend on Siesta Key Beach in Florida. Lightning struck and killed the victim around 2:15pm ET on Sunday, June 24, 2018. According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the accident occurred near the 6000 block of Midnight Pass Road.

After the strike, first responders attempted CPR on the victim as they waited for paramedics to arrive. Unfortunately, officials pronounced the victim dead later at the hospital. The Sarasota Sheriff’s Office says the investigation is ongoing. This incident marks the third lightning fatality in the state of Florida this year.

While there were lines of storms moving through the area, the National Weather Service only issued one severe weather alert. It was a Flood Advisory issued at 12:50pm ET for south central Sarasota County and northwestern Charlotte County. The alert started at 12:50pm ET and was set to end at 2:15pm ET, the time of the deadly strike. The alert stated that there was “heavy rain due to thunderstorms.”

Earth Networks Lightning Detection

Earth Networks Total Lightning Network detected an active afternoon of thunderstorms on June 24, 2018. During a 4-hour period surrounding the deadly lightning strike, our network detected 35,523 total lightning pulses within a 10-mile radius of Siesta Key Beach. You can see these lightning strikes in the image below. The purple bolts are in-cloud pulses and the yellow ones are cloud-to-ground.

Total lightning is the most reliable data to generate severe weather warnings. This is because a lot of warning agencies only pay attention to cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. While these are the ones that can injure and kill people, they only make up about 20% of all lightning strikes. Total lightning combines cloud-to-ground strikes with in-cloud strikes as well. In-cloud lightning strikes can’t directly harm you, but they are a great indicator of other forms of dangerous severe weather.

The closest cloud-to-ground strike we detected was at 2:07pm ET, which is close to the press report time of 2:15pm ET. This pulse was -51,874 amps, which is a strong lightning strike.

Leading up to the deadly strike, the high frequency of lightning set off three Earth Networks Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts (DTAs). Our DTAs offer the best leads times for severe weather, including deadly cloud-to-ground strikes, hail, microbursts, and flash floods.

Our Total Lightning Network issued the first DTA at 17:50 UTC for an area just south of Siesta Key Beach.

We issued the second DTA at 18:38 UTC, which included the area where the lightning incident occurred.

We issued the third and final DTA at 19:00 UTC, just north of the fatality location.

Lightning Deaths in 2018 

This is the sixth reported lightning fatality of 2018. The National Weather Service does not have it listed on their website yet. However, there have been five other confirmed lightning fatalities this year.

The first occurred in Honey Island, Texas, on February 6, 2018. This fatal strike occurred while the victim was repairing outdoor fencing.

The second lightning fatality occurred in White Springs, Florida. A 23-year-old female victim was mud bogging when lightning killed her on April 7, 2018.

The third death was also in Florida. On May 16, 2018 lightning struck and killed a 53-year-old female while she was on a produce farm field in Parkland, Florida.

The fourth confirmed lightning fatality occurred soon after in McKenzie, Tennessee. Lightning struck and killed a 7-year-old boy as he was playing under a tree on May 28, 2018.

The final confirmed lightning death by the National Weather Service occurred in Maumelle, Arkansas when lightning struck a tree. The current then traveled through the ground and killed a 27-year-old male construction worker on June 8, 2018.

How To Protect Yourself

There are plenty of ways to protect yourself from thunderstorms and lightning.

The best way to keep yourself from becoming a static is to head indoors at the first sign of a thunderstorm. There is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. The scariest part is, deadly lightning strikes can happen out-of-the-blue. This is because lightning can extend over 10 miles from a storm cell. Make sure you pay attention to the weather forecast and carry a weather radio or application with you at all times so you can head to safety quickly.

If you own or operate an outdoor facility like a beach, park, or field, we highly recommend you look into severe weather alerting system that utilizes total lightning data to give your visitors, staff, and community the most advanced weather warnings so they can get to safety.

Learn More

You can also join our National Lightning Safety Awareness Week Live Video Series on Facebook Live Today-Friday at 2pm ET.