Lightning Hot Spots In The US And Around The World

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According to the 2019 Annual Lightning Report, bolts were detected more than 2.3 billion times worldwide last year.

Parts of the Great Plains, Gulf Coast and Florida had the most lightning in the U.S. But the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa beats everyone.

Lightning hot spots around the world, Lightning hot spots around the world map
Lightning hot spots around the world. Map of strikes by Vaisala

After releasing a map of the super bolts around the world, new data found in the 2019 Annual Lightning Report show that there were at least 2.35 billion lightnings – between clouds and cloud-to-ground – worldwide in 2019.

Number of lightnings in the U.S.

Lightning hot spots in the U.S., Lightning hot spots in the U.S. map
Lightning hot spots in the U.S.. Map by Vaisala

Around 223 million lightning were detected in the U.S.. This corresponds to about 9% of the worldwide total detections.

Florida managed to keep its title as the lightning capital of the U.S. although the Sunshine State was 7% below its average per year. Following were Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Louisiana.

Texas, Missouri and Kansas all had 2 million more lightning detections than normal last year. Of note, the Pacific Northwest heard a lot of thunder last year. Washington and Oregon each had more lightning in 2019 than in any year since 2015.

There were ‘only’ 20 lightning-related deaths in 2019, Texas and Florida leading the list with three people killed in each state.

2019 lightning hot spots around the world

Lightning hot spots around the world, Lightning hot spots around the world map
Lightning hot spots around the world. Map of strikes by Vaisala

Lightning hot spots in the Western Hemisphere include areas from the Great Plains and Gulf Coast of the U.S. into Central America and northern and central parts of South America.

Tropical locations near and either side of the equator have the most lightning in the Eastern Hemisphere. This includes an area from central Africa to eastern India and much of southeast Asia. One particular spot that stands out is the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa.

Vaisala noted that one lightning bolt was detected within 110 miles of the North Pole last year, setting a Guinness World Record for the most northerly lightning detected.

Where does lightning strike most often often?

Most of the lightning in the world is detected over or near land areas.

Since land areas heat up faster than water, there is a larger amount of unstable air available in order to form thunderstorms.

The highest concentrations of lightning are in parts of the world where warm and humid air exists for a large amount of the year. Similar headlines on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle. [Vaisala, press report]

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