WMO assessment of weather and climate mortality extremes: Lightning, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and hail

Randall Cerveny, Pierre Bessemoulin, Christopher C. Burt, Mary Ann Cooper, Zhang Cunjie, Ashraf Dewan, Jonathan Finch, Ronald L. Holle, Laurence Kalkstein, Andries Kruger, Tsz Cheung Lee, Rodney Martínez, M. Mohapatra, D. R. Pattanaik, Thomas C. Peterson, Scott Sheridan, Blair Trewin, Andrew Tait, M. M. Abdel Wahab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Climatology international panel was convened to examine and assess the available evidence associated with five weather-related mortality extremes: 1) lightning (indirect), 2) lightning (direct), 3) tropical cyclones, 4) tornadoes, and 5) hail. After recommending for acceptance of only events after 1873 (the formation of the predecessor of the WMO), the committee evaluated and accepted the following mortality extremes: 1) ''highest mortality (indirect strike) associated with lightning'' as the 469 people killed in a lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, on 2 November 1994; 2) ''highest mortality directly associated with a single lightning flash'' as the lightning flash that killed 21 people in a hut in Manica Tribal Trust Lands, Zimbabwe (at time of incident, eastern Rhodesia), on 23 December 1975; 3) ''highest mortality associated with a tropical cyclone'' as the Bangladesh (at time of incident, East Pakistan) cyclone of 12-13 November 1970 with an estimated death toll of 300 000 people; 4) ''highest mortality associated with a tornado'' as the 26 April 1989 tornado that destroyed the Manikganj district, Bangladesh, with an estimated death toll of 1300 individuals; and 5) ''highest mortality associated with a hailstorm'' as the storm occurring near Moradabad, India, on 30 April 1888 that killed 246 people. These mortality extremes serve to further atmospheric science by giving baseline mortality values for comparison to future weather-related catastrophes and also allow for adjudication of new meteorological information as it becomes available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-497
Number of pages11
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


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