Lightning Strike Kills 15 Cows During Alabama Storm

Fifteen cows were killed after being struck by lightning on Monday as severe weather passed through central Alabama, officials have said.

The incident took place on a family farm in Milstead, Macon County, said Frank Lee, director of the county's Emergency Management Agency.

Lee told news outlet WSFA that the cattle were found dead by the farm's owners after the storms that hit several southern states this week. The owners have now begun burying the dead livestock, WSFA reported.

Lee added that his office had reported the incident to the National Weather Service office in Birmingham.

Storms have led to at least three deaths and dozens of injuries in the southern U.S. this week, the Associated Press reported.

Flash flooding was seen across Alabama on Monday and Tuesday, while strong winds toppled trees in the central part of the state.

Tens of thousands of people are still without power in Alabama and neighbouring Mississippi, according to PowerOutage.us.

The odds of being struck by lightning are extremely low—around one in a million, says the National Weather Service.

Despite the low risk, lightning is among the leading causes of storm-related deaths in the U.S. Between 2009 and 2018, there were 27 lightning fatalities each year on average.

Roughly 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, but those who survive are often left with serious injuries.

The most common cause of death related to lightning is cardiac arrest at the time of the strike. However, some victims survive the strike only to die with irreversible brain damage a few days later.

Many lightning strike survivors experience long-term symptoms that can include chronic pain, headaches, personality changes, memory problems, slower reaction times, cognitive issues and depression.

The incident in Macon County is not the only time livestock have been killed by a lightning strike.

Nearly two dozen cows were killed in northern Texas in 2019 after lightning struck a metal fence close to them.

A rancher, Bobby "Trey" Woody III, came across the dead cows and captured images of the eerie scene, describing it as one of the "wildest and craziest" things he'd ever seen.

"We had a bad thunderstorm hit our ranch a few days ago, and we didn't think nothing of it," the rancher wrote on Facebook. "Well, this morning when my dad went out to check the cows, this is what he found. Lighting struck a fence near where some of our cattle were laying and killed them."

Lightning during a thunderstorm
Stock image of lightning. Fifteen cows were killed by lightning during a storm in Alabama on Monday. iStock