Earth Networks, the global leader in weather and lightning monitoring and alerting, today released its 2020 U.S. Lightning Report. During 2020, Earth Networks detected 441,211,344 in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning pulses within the continental U.S., a decrease of 15% from 2019. Over 31.5 million of those pulses were cloud-to-ground, representing 7% of all lightning activity.
The lightning activity detailed in the report was detected by the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network (ENTLN), which monitors the combination of in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes over 100 countries. Sensor density is important for accuracy, and with over 1,800 sensors, a team of lightning scientists, and 24/7 meteorologist experts, the ENTLN is the most extensive and technologically advanced total lightning network in the world.
Once again, Texas led all states in total number of pulses at more than 63.6 million, followed by Florida, Oklahoma and Kansas. Three counties in Florida held the top spots for cloud-to-ground pulse density, or the greatest number of pulses per square mile, including Volusia, Monroe, and Brevard.
Other key findings include:
- Of the 20 counties with the highest volume of lightning, 15 were located within Florida and had more than 130 Thunder Days (or days where lightning was detected) in 2020.
- The southwestern states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah experienced an average 28% decrease in lightning from 2019.
- More than 29,000 of Earth Networks’ proprietary Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts were issued throughout the country, with a high concentration located within the Great Plains and Southeastern U.S.
“Based on our network records, 2020 represents a historic reduction in lightning activity in the U.S. overall,” said Mark Hoekzema, Chief Meteorologist at Earth Networks. “Although the southeast U.S. saw more lightning, Florida continued its downward trend and the western and southwestern states were locked in a persistent drought. By contrast, 2019 experienced a large-scale atmospheric teleconnection called the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and this caused a more active than normal storm season, specifically in the Great Plains lightning-prone region during the previous year.”
ENTLN detects real-time lightning and provides early warning for severe weather events that could threaten public safety and operational efficiency. Earth Networks customers who subscribe to the weather visualization and alerting platform, Sferic Maps, also have the option to subscribe to a new self-serve historical lightning archive to run their own detailed historical analyses on past lightning data.