Struck by Lightning: US Tourist Killed in Australia

  • Dec 22, 2016

Lightning accident

A US tourist was struck by lightning while he was on vacation in Australia. This tragic event happened on Australia’s Mount Warning, a mountain on the east coast known for its spectacular sunrise views. The victim and another individual camped out on the mountain during the night of 5 December while severe storms passed through the region. The man died when lightning struck a tree he was touching during the early morning hours of 6 December.

While some reported nearly 5,000 lightning strikes in the area on Monday evening, we detected a total of 44,915 total lightning strikes from Monday evening to early Tuesday morning when the incident occurred (an 11-hour period.) The above video shows the total lightning in the area. Purple strikes represent in-cloud flashes and yellow strikes represent cloud-to-ground flashes; like the one that killed the US tourist.


We detected approximately five cloud-to-ground strikes on top of Mount Warning during the early morning hours of the storm. The strike featured above hit at 17:48 UTC, or around 5 am local time. The time, high amplitude and location of this strike lead us to believe that it was the strike that took the tourist’s life and injured his girlfriend.

Deadly Australian weather


The high frequencies of lightning  generated 19 Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts (DTAs) for the area immediately surrounding Mount Warning. The purple polygons in the image represent the alerts. They help predict the direction of strong storm cells and their intensity so people can stay safe from severe weather. The video below shows the path of the storm cells in yellow, orange and red and the accompanying DTAs.


Approximately two hours before the fatal strike, a DTA west of Mount Warning recorded an average of 69 strikes per minute. 23 minutes before the couple was struck by lightning, another DTA encompassed an area including Mount Warning.


How to avoid being struck by lightning


Frequent thunderstorm asthma outbreaks and deadly cloud-to-ground lightning strikes impacted the southern and eastern regions of Australia earlier this month. n the event that you find yourself outdoors during a thunderstorm, here are a few precautions you can take:

  • Seek shelter like a building or vehicle
  • Avoid being in high places, like on roofs or mountain tops
  • Avoid tall objects like trees, poles and fences
  • Stay out of water and open spaces
  • Do not seek shelter in baseball dugouts, rain shelters or any other incomplete structure