A new lightning device tells a fascinating story.


NOAA’s new Lightning climatology tool For continental US shows, cloud-to-ground lightning strikes are historically the most frequent of any location across the country.

Information about long-term lightning trends, as well as the dates and times of lightning strikes, can be useful to almost everyone in many ways. Organizers and sponsors of outdoor events, outdoor workers, the aviation industry, emergency managers and weather forecasters – or anyone interested in thunder and lightning – can all benefit.

Although the lightning climatology tool can help determine the extent to which thunderstorms will affect long-term plans, always check weather forecast Short term plans. monitor Your local radar For thunderstorms, this will help you know when to seek safe shelter.

“Our new tool tells us a story about when and where lightning chances are likely to increase, putting anyone outdoors at greater risk,” said Aaron Treadway, severe services coordinator and lightning safety expert at NOAA’s National Weather Service. “This climate information can help people make more informed decisions that affect everything from safety to cost effectiveness, and can improve the chances of a successful event.”

Imagine you are planning an outdoor wedding in Tampa, Florida in the summer of 2023. You can use lightning climatology to determine the probability of one or more cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in a 1-hour, 4-hour, or 24-hour period. We did that research and the data shows that mid-afternoon has the highest chance of lightning in the Tampa area any day of the year.

On the Lightning Climatology home page, you can quickly determine the maximum chance of cloud-to-ground lightning across the US for any given day of the year. (NOAA)

By digging into the Tampa location data, you can open a Heatmap (yellow and orange icon) to determine lighting activity for each hour of the year.

Heatmap map of Tampa, Florida showing average lightning activity for each hour and day of the year. The darker the color, the more likely it is to be a lightning bolt. For most of the summer, there is at least a 30% chance of lightning in Tampa between 3pm EDT and 7pm EDT. (NOAA)

The data shows that lightning flashes are less likely to occur in the morning hours during the summer. If you still want to have your wedding in the afternoon, you may want to arrange a backup indoor location to seek safe shelter if thunderstorms are in the forecast. Another option is to plan a wedding in winter or spring when there is no lightning.

Lightning started with climatology Hurricane Prediction CenterIt is based on more than 20 years of lightning data from the National Weather Service and the National Lightning Detection Network. The tool is improved every year because quality controlled lightning data is available in the last year.

On average, about 25 million lightning strikes occur each year in the U.S. Lightning strikes occur year-round, with the peak months being June, July, and August. An average of 300 people are struck by lightning each year, and 30 die. When you hear thunder, lightning is nearby – and can strike from 10 miles away! It is not safe to be outside during a thunderstorm. “Come home when the thunder roars” and remember our motto “See flash, dash inside.”

Check out our tips for more Lightning safety website.

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