Natural Hazards

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 481–499 | Cite as

Assessment of lightning-related damage and disruption in Canada

  • Brian Mills
  • Dan Unrau
  • Laurel Pentelow
  • Kelsey Spring
Original Paper


This article assesses the extent and costs of lightning-related damage and disruption in Canada. Lightning routinely damages property and disrupts economic and social activities. Affected sectors include health; property and casualty insurance; forestry; electricity generation, transmission, and distribution; agriculture; telecommunications; transportation; and tourism and recreation—the first four sectors are the most important in terms of contributing to overall impacts and costs. Secondary data and extrapolations from U.S. studies were used to develop cost estimates for the health, property, forestry, and electricity sectors. Aggregated, annual lightning-related damage and disruption costs in Canada range from CA$600 million to CA$1 billion. Forestry and electricity damages accounted for over 85% of the total. The estimates are both preliminary and conservative. In terms of continued research, additional or more refined studies using Canadian empirical data are warranted for the insurance and electricity sectors. Detailed insurance claim or outage data would permit analysis at the storm level and potentially discern finer-scaled risk patterns. Further effort is also required to evaluate risk or damage prevention measures, particularly those that relate to expanded or enriched use of the Canadian Lightning Detection Network data by both public and private sector clients. Both the degree of adoption and efficacy or cost-effectiveness should be investigated.


Lightning Damage Cost Disruption Casualty Thunderstorm Canada 



The authors wish to thank Ron Holle Vaisala Inc. and Bob Kochtubajda Environment Canada for reviewing elements of this research. Constructive comments from the anonymous reviewers are also greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Mills
    • 1
  • Dan Unrau
    • 1
  • Laurel Pentelow
    • 1
  • Kelsey Spring
    • 2
  1. 1.Adaptation and Impacts Research Division, Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate, Environment Canadac/o Faculty of Environment, University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Environment Canada, Canadian Lightning Detection NetworkRichmondCanada

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