Daily Archives: February 9, 2012

what is the conditional probability of being struck by lightning?

There is not nearly enough information available on the Internet on the conditional probability of being struck by lightning.

I think of the odds of being struck by lightning and conditional probability every time I am in a thunderstorm. The conditional probability of being struck by lightning is probably not 1 in 6. NOAA estimates that the (unconditional) probability of being struck by lightning is ~1 in 1,000,000 per year and ~1 in 10,000 over a lifetime. That’s of little solace when I’m out running a few miles from home when a thunderstorm rolls in.

Jeffrey Seth Rosenthal’s book Struck by Lightning does not exactly answer this question. He does, however, report the annual probability of being struck by lightning conditioned on where on lives. Below are the figures from his book on the most dangerous states, the safest states, and the most dangerous countries (at least in terms of being struck by lightning). The “Annual Rates” report the expected number of people struck by lightning per year per 100,000. This could be due to differences in the prior probabilities (some areas have more thunderstorms than others) or in attitudes toward risk in thunderstorms.

Any idea of what the conditional probability of being struck by lightning would be given that one is outside in a thunderstorm? I need to know how much to panic the next time a thunderstorm rolls in when I am running.

There is a part II, part III, and part IV to this series.