A new report has found that Florida is no more the lightning capital of the US. It has been overtaken by Oklahoma. The report is based on data from the previous five years. It is important to note that the data is not based on the total incidents but on lightning density, or simply, lightning bolts per square kilometer.
The study was carried out by Vaisala. Headquartered in Vantaa, Finland, Vaisala is a company focused upon devising, developing and marketing products and services for environmental measurement. On Tuesday, April 20, Chris Vagasky – a meteorologist and Lightning Applications Manager at Vaisala – broke the news on Twitter.
“BREAKING: Oklahoma has supplanted Florida as the #lightning capital of the United States, according to new data released today. Over the last 5 years, #OKwx has more total lightning per square kilometer than #FLwx,”, tweeted Vagasky.
The link to Vaisala’s Interactive Global Lightning Density Map was also a part of Vagasky’s tweet.
Florida has been considered to be the lightning capital of the US for a long time. While the new analysis might have shown that this has changed, the difference remains miniscule. As per the data, Oklahoma tops the list with 83.4 lightning flashes per square kilometer, followed by Florida with an average of 82.8 over the last five years.
The other three states among the top five are Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas with scores of 71.9, 58.1 and 57.5 respectively. Oklahoma and Florida have been the top two states over the last few years in terms of lighting received. In 2019, Florida topped the list with 88 lightning strikes per square kilometer followed by Oklahoma’s 81.61. Experts believe that this trend will continue.
“Whether one is going to fully overtake the other and just be the lightning king for the rest of time, you can’t really say that. I think there’s gonna be a lot of fluctuation between the two. They’re gonna be battling it out”, said Chris Vagasky.
Oklahoma might have edged Florida in terms of lightning density but Florida still is at the top when it comes to a more worrying stat: deaths caused by lightning. Florida, on average, records seven deaths due to lightning every year and often tops the national list. A big reason for this is Florida’s dense population. Florida recorded three deaths due to lightning in 2019, but even that was enough to put it on top of the list of states with the highest number of deaths along with Texas. In 2018, one third of the total lightning deaths of the US occurred in Florida. Lightning is also a cause of some roof repair in Orlando and surrounding Florida cities.
Another environmental monitoring company, Earth Networks, said that it does not support Vaisala’s claim of Oklahoma overtaking the Sunshine State. The 2020 US lightning report issued by Earth Networks had found that 15 of the 20 counties with the highest lightning volumes, 15 were located in Florida. The company also noted an overall reduction in lightning activity in the US last year.