Four Corners, Florida has been crowned the new lightning capital of the United States, with a record-breaking 474 lightning events per square kilometer. The title was previously held by Flatonia, Texas, situated halfway between Houston and San Antonio.
Vaisala Xweather — a global leader in weather, environmental, and industrial measurements — published its 2022 Annual Lightning Report on January 3, 2023. Released each January since 2017, the report highlights the most remarkable lightning events and trends of the previous year.
The 2022 report reveals a total of 198 227 289 in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning events in the continental United States, representing the highest total count since 2019.1
The number one state in terms of total lightning count in 2022 is Texas with 27 696 688 lightning events, followed by Florida with 18 706 904, Louisiana with 11 561 897, Oklahoma with 11 373 431, and Mississippi with 9 957 804.
This is the same order as the top-five lightning leaders of 2021, with the exception of Mississippi replacing Kansas for the number 5 spot. However, the number of lightning events in Texas decreased from 41.9 million in 2021 to 27.7 million in 2022, according to Chris Vagasky, a meteorologist and lightning expert at Vaisala.2
The report also reveals state lightning capitals — the city or town in each state that saw the most lighting density, or the number of lighting events per km2 — and names Four Corners, Florida as the city with the most lightning in 2022 — making it the new lighting capital of the United States.
This title was previously held by Flatonia, Texas, a town located about halfway between Houston and San Antonio.
Vagasky told AccuWeather’s reporter Bill Wadell that “lightning trends or lightning counts are starting to return towards normal,” after a below-average number of lightning bolts were observed in 2020 and 2021.
“One of the big things is that lightning trends or lightning counts are starting to return towards normal,” Vagasky told AccuWeather, adding that there was a below-average number of lightning bolts over the U.S. in 2020 and 2021. The 198 million lightning events in 2022 were the most recorded since 2019 when 223 million events were detected.
The report also reveals how the eruption of Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha’apai volcano in Tonga on January 15 — the largest volcanic eruption in 100 years — triggered the most extreme concentration of lightning ever detected.
The Vaisala Global Lightning Dataset (GLD360) recorded almost 400 000 volcanic lightning events in just 6 hours on January 15, the report reveals. At the peak of the eruption, half of all global lightning was concentrated around the volcano — marking the greatest concentration of lightning ever recorded.
1 The Annual Lightning Report – Vaisala Xweather – January 3, 2023
2 The US has a new lightning capital, and it’s next to a popular tourist destination – AccuWeather – January 6, 2023
Featured image credit: Nathan Lounds
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