Florida: The Sunshine State … and the Lightning State

There are many ways in which a professional sports team receives its nickname, although some are more obscure than others. Do you know why the Tampa Bay National Hockey League franchise is dubbed “Lightning”? While Florida is the “Sunshine State,” the central portion of the state from Tampa through Titusville is known as “Lightning Alley.” This central Florida region is bombarded with around 100 lightning storms per year.

According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, 125 Floridians died from lightning strikes from 1990 to 2003. Lightning is the top cause of weather-related fatalities in Florida. Nationally, nearly 200,000 homeowners insurance claims are filed each year due to lightning strikes, according to insurance industry data. The total annual insured losses related to lightning is around $800 million.

Some quick facts about lightning, courtesy of National Geographic News:

  • Lightning is a giant electrical spark. Each spark can span more than five miles.
  • The temperature of lightning is as high as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit—three times hotter than the sun.
  • Earth is hit by about 1,000 lightning bolts every second.
  • The chance of being hit by lightning at some point in your life is 1 in 3,000.
  • Lightning not only occurs during thunderstorms, but it may also take place during volcanic eruptions, forest fires, hurricanes and nuclear explosions.
  • New York City’s Empire State Building is struck by lightning approximately 23 times per year.1

Here are some safety tips to prevent being struck by lightning, which can be devastating or even fatal.

While outdoors during a thunderstorm:

  • Avoid water.
  • Avoid high ground.
  • Avoid open spaces.
  • Avoid all metal objects.
  • Do not stay underneath canopies, rain shelters or near trees.
  • Find shelter in a substantial building or in an enclosed metal vehicle. Keep the windows completely shut.


If lightning is striking nearby:

  • Crouch down and put your feet together to minimize your contact with the ground.
  • Stay at least 15 feet from other people to avoid the risk of multiple injuries. Lightning can jump from one person to another.
  • If anyone is injured, immediately call 911 or send for help.


When indoors:

  • Avoid water.
  • Stay away from doors and windows.
  • Do not use the telephone, because electrical wires may be hit by lightning. Even using a cellular phone is hazardous because the metal parts can conduct lightning.
  • Due to the electrical connections that can be ignited by lightning, remove headsets and unplug and avoid appliances, computers, power tools and television sets.

According to the National Weather Service, lightning can strike from as far away as ten miles away from the storm itself. And, lightning can strike even before the rain begins. So if you hear thunder, seek shelter immediately.

The heat from a lightning strike can spark a fire; and lightning can also cause a power surge that may ignite a fire. Most homeowners, comprehensive automobile policies and business insurance policies should cover lightning-related damage. Some home and commercial lines policies will also cover losses stemming from power surges.

Check with your agent, especially if you live in the “Lightning Alley” region of Central Florida. If you live in the Tampa area, for a free Homeowners quote, click here or a Condominium quote, click here.


Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.