That compares with four deaths and 20 injuries in the two states for all of last year. Only two deaths were reported in the two states in all of 2008 and 2009, and one in 2010.
On Thursday, lightning claimed the life of a fisherman struck earlier in the week in Long Branch, N.J. Two weeks ago, one person was killed and nine injured by lightning at Pocono Raceway, and four people, including a pregnant woman, were sent to the hospital after a strike on Aug. 1.
Gary Szatkowski, chief of the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, suspects that the atmosphere has been more highly charged than usual.
His hypothesis: Extreme summer heat has supplied more energy for convection - the rising of hot air that condenses and powers thunderstorms.
It is unclear whether the increase is due to more strikes or worse luck.
In recent years, sophisticated detection equipment has determined that lightning is indefatigable.
It is estimated that it strikes the ground about 30 million times annually in the contiguous United States. That's about 80,000 times a day.
It is impossible to have thunder without lightning, even if the lightning isn't visible. Thunder is simply the sonic response to lightning, which can superheat the surrounding air to a temperature of 50,000 degrees.
The idea that lightning can't strike twice in the same place is a myth. Ask the Empire State Building, which gets zapped about 100 times a year.
You'll find some other lightning myths and facts here: www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/myths.htm
"In reality there's no safe place outside in a thunderstorm," said Utley, who was struck by lightning in 2000 and is still recovering. "It's painfully slow," said Utley, who lives in Massachusetts, and who for several years was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's lightning-safety spokesman.
He said lightning is a particular hazard locally.
"The problem with Pennsylvania and New Jersey is that people don't pay attention to it."
Contact Anthony R. Wood at 610-313-8210 or email@example.com.