Lightning fatality at New Jersey golf course is first of 2021

A man died after he was struck by lightning on a New Jersey golf course, authorities said.

Burlington County emergency dispatchers said the man was struck shortly after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday between the sixth and seventh holes at the Burlington Country Club in Westampton Township. The man was later identified as 70-year-old Michael Ward of Florence, reports WTXF.

Officials said he was pronounced dead at the scene. His name, age, and other details weren’t immediately released.

"Thunderstorms were popping up across the mid-Atlantic all afternoon with frequent lightning," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said. "Thunderstorms are typically considered severe when it is producing hail or wind gusts over 55 mph. The thunderstorm that tracked near Westampton, New Jersey, this afternoon did not meet the severe criteria but shows that any thunderstorm can be dangerous."

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According to the National Weather Service, 2020 saw a total of 17 lighting-related deaths. Typically, lightning strikes kill about three to four people in the U.S. by the second week of June. Five were killed by that date last year.

According to National Geographic, around 100 cloud-to-ground lightning bolts strike Earth's surface every second, which is nearly three billion strikes per year. NWS reports that lightning strikes the U.S. about 25 million times per year.

To learn more about lightning safety, head over to the NWS website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.