Global Lightning Activity by WWLLN

Research Papers

Department of Meteorology and Oceanography, Andhra University | 2012

By PR Kumar & AK Kamra

ABSTRACT: Impacts of the ENSOs on total number of flashes and number of flash days from the LIS (Lightning Imaging Sensor) on board the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite and on the average flash rate from the combined OTD (Optical Transient Detector) / LIS data are studied in South/Southeast Asia (8⁰ – 30⁰ N, 60⁰ – 120⁰ E). Also examined is the difference between the geographical distributions of these parameters in the El Nino period and in the corresponding normal period. During the ENSO event, the number of flashes and average flash rate increase by 12% and 36%, respectively, during the El Nino period and during the La Nina period decrease by 22% and 5%, respectively, as compared to the corresponding normal periods. Similarly, during the ENSO event, the number of flashes and average flash rate increase by 28% and 5% during the El Nino period as compared to the corresponding normal period. The contrast in lightning activity between the El Nino and La Nina periods is more pronounced in Southeast Asia than in South Asia because of the southeastward shift in the convection activity during the ENSO events. In both regions, however, monthly variations of both total number of flashes and average flash rate are almost parallel to that of surface temperature. Although, the inverse relationship between the Indian Summer Monsoon Rainfall (ISMR) and El Nino broke down, the relationship between the El Nino and lightning maintains its normal increasing trend, indicating that the lightning activity is more sensitive to the convective activity than to rainfall on seasonal time scale.

Forensic Pathology Unit, Department of Pathology, University Malaya | October, 2009

By OP Murty, CK Kian, MH Ari Husin, RK Nanta Kumar & WY Mohammed Yusuf

ABSTRACT: Lightning strike is a natural phenomenon with potentially devastating effects and represents one of the important causes of deaths from environmental phenomena. Almost every organ system may be affected as lightning current passes through the human body taking the shortest pathways between the contact points. A 10 years retrospective study (1996-2005) was conducted at University Hospital Kuala Lumpur (20 cases) also including cases during last 3 years from Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah, Klang (7 cases) from the autopsy reports at Forensic Pathology Units of these 2 hospitals. Both these hospitals are attached to University of Malaya. There were 27 fatal cases of lightning strike with male preponderance(92.59%) and male to female ratio of 12.5:1. Majority of victims of lightning strike were from the age group between 30 and 39 years old. Most of the victims were foreign workers. Indonesians workers contributed to 59.26% of overall cases. Majority of them were construction workers who attributed i.e.11 of 27 cases (40.74%). Most of the victims were brought in dead (37.04%). In majority of the cases the lightning incidence occurred in the evenings, with the frequency of 15 of 27 cases (62.5%). The month of December represented with the highest number of cases (5 cases of 23 cases); 2004 had the highest incidence of lightning strike which was 5 (19.23%). Lightning strike incidence occurred when victims had taken shelter (25.9%) under trees or shades. Lightning strike in open areas occurred in 10 of 27 cases (37.0%). Head and neck were the most commonly affected sites with the incidence of 77.78% and 74% respectively in all the victims. Only 29.63% of the cases presented with ear bleeding.

Articles on Lightning & Thunderstorms from Southeast Asia


Lightning kills two

By MK Anwar, Azaraimy & Yusrin Junaidi

Two male army recruits under-going final assessments at Bukit Agok, Tutong, were killed on Friday night after they were struck by lightning. The incident which happened at about 9.05pm, also injured 13 others with three of them still in intensive care.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday afternoon consented to visit the injured recruits at RIPAS Hospital. Highlighting His Majesty’s concern on the injured recruits, the monarch also visited the three who are still receiving treatment at the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Family members were taken aback with His Majesty’s presence and expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the unannounced visit. In Ward 6 where 10 of the recruits were warded, His Majesty was heard advising one of the recuperating recruits to take enough rest. Present during the visit was the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awg Halbi and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Mustappa.

Also in attendance was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dato Paduka Awg Serbini.

Earlier in an interview with the Bulletin, one of the recruits, Rumaizi bin Hj Maidin, accounted what happened that fateful evening. The rain was heavy and streaks of lightning could be seen far off the coast from the hill where they were standing. He remembered that out of the blue, a series of lightning that seemed to be at a distance struck twice near them, one in front and another just behind. All he could remember was two of his friends beside him collapsing and the rest of them sustaining injuries. Later, he found out that two of his fellow comrades who stood beside him were killed, while three ended up receiving intensive care at ICU. He added that moments before; one of the two who passed away was enjoying his instant noodles and having a laugh with him. He could not fathom all that had happened so suddenly. It was also a miracle that only a small number of recruits were injured from the 139 taking part in the training. According to one of the medical officers, the injured were still under observation and their conditions are improving. Some of the family members said they felt relieved as the worst has passed and that most of them are now safe.

Most of the recruits like Rumaizi had sustained some burns on their bodies, it was understood. The Ministry of Defence in a statement yesterday confirmed that the incident was caused by a lightning strike occurring during heavy rain as the recruits were undergoing jungle training.


Death, Injury by Lightning Strike in Cambodia Can Be Reduced

The Cambodia Daily | MARCH 18, 2013

By Kenneth Wilson

Cambodia has one of the highest rates in the world of deaths by lightning. At 7.8 deaths per million people, (2007 to 2011) the measure is exceeded by only a few other countries, for example, South Africa, at 8.8. Global location plays a pivotal role and countries located in tropical and subtropical regions have higher death rates because these areas have more storms. Some other countries have reported yearly death averages of: Thailand, 2.6; Vietnam, 1.2; Japan, 0.1; China, 1.3; U.S., 0.2. Cambodia’s high number of 7.8 was the average for deaths in five years as reported by the National Committee for Disaster Management: 165 (2011), 114 (2010), 140 (2009), 95 (2008) and 45 (2007), then divided by the average population over the same years, which was 14.4 million. For 2012, no final death report has been made, although the death count for the first nine months was 100. It is important to stress that these figures are only as good as the reporting, collation, and dissemination thereof.

May 24, 2011

By Albeiro Rodas

The Cambodian raining season (May-October) also means a threat to vulnerable farmers by thunderstorms

SIHANOUKVILLE: More than 70 people have died in Cambodia in 2011 due to lightning, according to the National Committee of Disasters. All of the victims are farmers in central provinces like Pursat, Kompung Cham and Battambang. The number of deaths by lighting more than doubled since the same period last year, January to May. The deadly lightning comes with the rainy season that started earlier this year in April.

Campaigns to prevent it consists in telling farmers through the media to stay indoors when it rains.

“Every year we know that someone dies due to lightning. For example, last year I knew of a man who was struck when he was on the phone,” says Brak Sakhan, 23, a student in the southern province of Kompot. “We think that it happens especially when the farmers are out on the fields and they do not have time to take shelter, but we have known of persons who have been struck when they were at home.”

There have been also cases of animals, like cows, pigs and oxen, which have been killed by the natural phenomenon. Several rural families believe that lighting is sent by angels.

“Some farmers believe that a person who is killed by lighting is because that person did something that makes him worthy of it,” explains Sakhan. “If a man has two women, it means that one must be removed by the angels.”


Lightning Strikes Kill Three, Injure Five Across Java

Jakarta Globe | Feb 01, 2015

The peak of the rainy season in Indonesia has seen several incidents of people being struck by lightning, in many cases fatally. (Antara Photo/Irsan Mulyadi) Jakarta. Lightning strikes during thunderstorms on Saturday killed three people and injured five in separate incidents across Java. Two farmers in Tasikmalaya, West Java, were killed by a lightning strike while working in their field on Saturday afternoon, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Sunday. Three other farmers suffered extensive burns in the same strike, he added. In Bojonegoro, East Java, a lightning strike killed a farmer as he was walking home from his field at noon on Saturday. In Sampang district, on the island on Madura off the northern tip of East Java, a lightning strike injured two people. “Those killed have already been buried, while the injured are being treated in local hospitals and clinics,” Sutopo said.

Last week, six people were injured in a lightning strike while hiking on Mount Guntur in West Java’s Garut district.

Lightning strikes are common during the rainy season, which typically peaks in January.


Three dead, three injured in lightning strikes in Lao Cai

July 20, 2014

Heavy rain mixed with thunder and lightning killed three children and injured three others in the north-western province of Lao Cai on July 19. Lightning strikes four in Nam Dinh, three dead Lightning kills 6, injures 9 in Nghe An. The six were struck by lightning at around 4:03pm while they were grazing their buffalo and taking shelter under a big tree in Bon hamlet, Bao Yen district. The three dead victims were aged from 11-14, and identified as Truong Thi Cau and her two brothers Truong Van Mong and Truong Van Dau from Bon hamlet. The three injured are Ly Thi Nham, Ly Thi Vinh and Hua Thi Ton. Bao Yen district provided financial assistance worth VND2 million to each family of the dead victims, while the injured received VND1 million each.


M’sia has 2nd highest number of lightning strikes in the world

The Star/Asia News Network | Wed, March 03, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is the country with the second highest number of lightning strikes in the world – but Malaysians are still not wary of its dangers, according to an American lightning expert. “Your country records double the number of thunderstorms than Florida, which gets an average of about 90 thunderstorms daily.

“Lightning is considered the worst natural killer, causing at least 25,000 deaths worldwide each year.

“This is no laughing matter,” Richard Kithil Jr, chairman of the US’ National Lightning Safety Institute (NSLI) told a media briefing yesterday. The event was organised by the Centre of Excellence on Lightning Protection (CELP) at Universiti Putra Malaysia to promote research, application and education on lightning. Kithil said no place was safe from lightning. “Only large buildings and fully enclosed vehicles can provide safety,” he cautioned.

“CELP’s aim is to encourage lightning precaution as part of occupational safety and to create awareness among the public,” said Kithil, who is CELP’s advisory committee. He said it was “not amusing” when sport authorities gave wrong safety advice.

New Straits Times | August 27, 2011

Kuala Lumpur is known as Asia’s lightning capital and that the country records the second highest number of strikes in the world! Thus far, “lightning strike” deaths count more than 50 casualties since 2008.


Two killed by Arakan lightning strike

Democratic Voice of Burma | 31 Oct, 2011

Six people were knocked unconscious after a lightning bolt hit a farm hut in Arakan state earlier this month, two of whom died from their injuries. The freak accident occurred in Watkamauk village outside Mrauk-U township on 19 October. The local hospital confirmed the two fatalities. The six had reportedly been sitting inside the hut when a heavy storm hit the region. “The lightning struck at 4.45pm and there were six people in the hut at the time. All of them were knocked out and four of them regained consciousness around 6pm or 7pm but they found the other two dead, as well as a buffalo and a cow,” said a local monk. Bodies of the deceased were sent to Mrauk-U hospital that evening and doctors confirmed the cause of death as being struck by lightning. They were buried at Minthakyun cemetery in Mrauk-U.

On the same day a landslide in nearby Khitechaung village swept away a number of houses. “So far three bodies have been buried – apparently at least 50 people were killed. Now locals in the village are searching for more bodies,” said the monk. Despite the deaths there, Arakan state was comparatively unscathed by the storm, which arrived from Bangladesh and last week caused havoc in Magwe division. Heavy flooding resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people, and caused widespread damage in several towns.

The Philippines | September 4, 2013

By Jhunnex Napallacan

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Two persons were killed when lightning struck two villages of Toledo City while hail hit at least three villages of nearby town of Pinamungajan on Wednesday. The two fatalities were identified as Marites Lacheca, 37, a resident of Sitio (sub-village) Bawod, Barangay (village) Magdugo, and Victoriano Macaday, a security guard and a resident of Barangay Biga, both in Toledo City. The Toledo City police said Lacheca, a mother of four children, was doing the laundry outside her house when she was struck by lightning at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Magdugo barangay councilor Max Macapobre said Lacheca’s children had asked their mother to get inside their house because of the series of lightning but she refused.

Macapobre said Lacheca who died on the spot had black marks on the body, especially her neck. Meanwhile, Erna Ricacho, nurse on duty at the Carmen Copper Corporation Hospital in Toledo City confirmed that Macaday was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital 1:30 pm. Nurse on duty Erna Ricacho said the persons who brought Macaday told the hospital staff that the victim was fixing something outside the house when he was struck by lightning. Ricacho, however, said the hospital doctor had yet to give official report on the cause of his death, which has yet to be recorded at the Toledo City police station blotter. In Pinamungajan town, hail or freezing rain was experienced in the barangays of Binabag, Poblacion and Pandacan, also on Wednesday. Police Officer 2 Carlos Barluado happened to be in barangay Pandacan when he noticed hail the size of ice cubes falling down with the rain at around 1:40 pm. Barluado said some people who were afraid of what they believed as unusual occurrence in the town hid inside their houses. But Barluado said he was able to take video of the hail, which lasted for two minutes. He said not much hail accompanied the rain, but some plants were also damaged in Barangay Pandacan. In Barangay Poblacion, Pinamugahan, a mango tree was uprooted and fell into the house of Sergio Balungcas, causing minor damage, said Chief Inspector Roseller Paller. Paller, Pinamungahan chief of the police, said a minor waterspout simultaneously hit also in Sitio Pondol, Binabag, damaging the roof of two houses, owned by Emilie and Analie Obatay, which were made of light materials. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in Cebu had issued a thunderstorm alert in several areas of Cebu, including Toledo City and Pinamungajan.


CNN Travel | 22 November, 2011

Incoming visitors beware, Singapore is a lightning capital. No, this isn’t a euphemism for the Lion City’s vibrant nightlife; we’re literally talking about lightning, the type that can kill you. While Bangkok battles floods and Kota Kinabalu contemplates building dams to counter flash floods, Singapore has a more electrifying situation to deal with: lightning blazes across its skies 186 days every year. Certainly something to keep in mind when planning a visit to the Little Red Dot.

After all, even The Merlion is not safe from being zapped. And recent months have seen a number of individuals struck by lightning while canoeing and golfing.

The island’s hot and humid weather is the main reason for the formation of thunderstorms which produce lightning, especially during the inter-monsoon periods of April, May and November.

Wild Singapore estimates that these months see up to 20 days of thunderstorms every month, while January and February sees only about five days.

National Environment Agency of Singapore

Singapore has one of the highest occurrences of lightning activity in the world. Situated close to the Equator, the warm and humid tropical conditions are highly favourable for the development of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms produce lightning, and in severe cases, are accompanied by heavy rain and gusty winds. At any given time, more than 2,000 thunderstorms are estimated to be active around the globe.

On average, Singapore experiences 168 thunderstorm days per year. This refers to the number of days in which thunder is heard over Singapore, and gives an indication of lightning activity (as thunderstorms are associated with lightning). The monthly distribution of mean thunderstorm days as recorded at the climate station at Changi is shown below. More thunderstorm days are observed during the Inter-Monsoon months of April and May and October and November. The months of January and February in the later phase of the Northeast monsoon experience the least number of thunderstorm days.

Thunderstorms tend to occur between 2 pm and 6 pm in the afternoon as diurnal heating and convection play an important role in thunderstorm development.


NBTC probes deaths of 3 mobile users killed by lightning strikes

National News Bureau of Thailand | April 8, 2014

BANGKOK — The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) is coordinating with local police to investigate the deaths of three people using mobile phone when killed by lightning strikes in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Takorn Tantasith, Secretary General of NBTC, said that the Commission has been cooperating with the provincial police in Bangsapan Noi district of Prachuap Khiri Khan to gain more details about the case, as well as inspect the mobile phones, batteries and any associated equipment to check if they were legitimate imports.

Furthermore, it’s recommended that consumers select products approved by the Thai Industrial Standard and check international markings and information on imported mobile phones.

Mobile phone users should fully comply with instructions to prevent any injury or loss of life.


2 Million lightning bolts strike Viet Nam each year

Viet Nam News | 2013

HA NOI — Viet Nam is one of the countries most vulnerable to lighting strikes, according to geological scientists, who added that people could learn to avoid lightning easily. Due to its geographical characteristics, Viet Nam is hit by around 2 million lighting bolts per year, said Nguyen Xuan Anh, deputy head of the Viet Nam Academy of Science and Technology’s Institute of Earth Physics.

The Vietnamese thunderstorm season usually lasts from April to October, with an average of around 100 storms a year, according to the institute. Anh said that, over the years, lightning had been responsible for casualties, the disconnection of telecommunication and electricity cables and damage to farm crops. More than 20 people from across the country have died due to being struck by lightning in the first half of this year, according to institute statistics, most struck while out working their fields. Lightning is most common in Hai Duong City’s Co Dung District, Ha Tinh Province’s Son Loc District, Nghe An Province’s Yen Thanh District and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta. “These areas experience strong atmospheric turbulence, resulting in more frequent lightning strikes,” Anh said. Mineral rich areas usually suffer less damage from lightning, which is absorbed into the soil more quickly. Ha Noi and HCM City, because of their high rise buildings, usually suffer less from lightning strikes.

Anh said that residents could set up lightning prevention systems, including an iron lightning conductor pole, a conduction wire and a ground connection, in their houses. Lightning conductors poles should be 0.5-1.5m in length and be installed at the highest point of a house’s roof. Ground connection sections, made from iron and zinc, should be buried at a depth of 2.5-3m below ground and 10-20m away from the house, he added. When caught in a storm, people should shelter far away from large trees, electricity poles, kilns discharging smoke and ponds. People struck by lightning should be given immediate artificial respiration and heart massage within an hour. As many as 90 per cent of victims receiving first aid upon being struck, have been saved, Anh said.

In 2002 the institute created a lightning warning device, installed in Ha Noi’s Gia Lam District which sets off an alarm 30 minutes before a thunderstorm hits, allowing people to seek timely shelter.

Due to its price tag of US$10,000, the institute to date has been unable to roll the device out to other areas.



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