TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Florida’s nickname may be the Sunshine State, but it's also notorious for thunderstorms and the number of people killed by lightning strikes.
Huge bolts of lightning flash across the sky during almost-daily summer thunderstorms. The massive surges of energy might be beautiful, but they're also deadly.
"About 28 people are struck and killed, unfortunately, every single year,” said Brian LaMarre with the National Weather Service.
A Texas man died while camping last month. And according to the Florida Highway Patrol, a motorcyclist was hit by a bolt of lightning on the helmet as the 45-year-old rode on I-95 in Volusia County Sunday.
Out of the 20 people in the U.S. who died after being struck by lightning in 2018, seven were in Florida.
"We're the lightning capital of North America,” FOX 13 chief meteorologist Paul Dellegatto explained. “It's humid, we've got sea breezes, we're in the low 90s, we're really in the perfect spot to have daily thunderstorm activity."
While the odds of being hit are extremely low, lightning is erratic and unpredictable; almost a secret killer.
"You can theoretically get struck by lightning seven to 10 miles away from a thunderstorm," Dellegatto said.
The bolts reach temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun, causing visible damage when they strike, even sparking fires.
For every tragedy, there are even more close calls.
"Most people that get struck by lightning actually live, so if you survive the lightning strike, which most people do, the problem is you have lifelong health problems," said Dellegatto.
Officials say when thunder roars, go indoors, including if you're out riding a bike or motorcycle. The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is inside a building or a vehicle with a hard top.