Florida no longer the lightning capital of America, new data shows

Mary Jane Hack

Florida has long been known as the lightning capital of the U.S., but it may be giving up its title.

New weather data suggests that Oklahoma has taken the title. 

Meteorologists at the Finland-based environmental monitoring company Vaisala found that Oklahoma had narrowly surpassed Florida for the most lightning flashes per square kilometer from 2016 to 2020. 

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"Lightning events per square kilometer that were recorded in the Sooner State totaled 83.4 during that period, while Florida saw a slightly lesser 82.8 lightning events," FOX News reports.

In addition, AccuWeather says that there are some "nuances" in the types of lightning strikes that factored into Vaisala's conclusions, including both cloud-to-ground lightning and in-cloud lightning.

The company also reported that two Central Florida counties led the nation with an annual average of more than 159 lightning strikes per square kilometer.

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Seminole and Orange counties outshine any other county in the country for lightning, with an average of nearly 160 flashes of lightning per square kilometer each year, Bay News 9 reports.

"This means that ultimately, Orlando is the lightning capital of the United States," the news outlet reported.

Florida is known for summer thunderstorms fueled by sea-breeze collision, while Oklahoma sees supercell storms and mesoscale convective systems common in the Plains.

According to Vaisala's data, only one other state -- Louisiana -- saw more than 60 such events. The state reportedly averages 71.9 events per square kilometer per year.

According to National Geographic, around 100 cloud-to-ground lightning bolts strike Earth's surface every second.

FOX News contributed to this report