TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Wesley Grove, Texas, an area to the north of Houston, was found to have the highest lightning strike density of anywhere in Texas this year, according to Vaisala’s annual report on the weather phenomenon.
The analysis found that Wesley Grove had a lightning density of 262 lightning strikes per square kilometer in 2022. The closest areas to Wesley Grove in terms of lightning density were Blackford, Kentucky, and Divernon Township, Illinois.
The report named a lightning capital for each U.S. state – but what that means varies significantly by state. For example, while Lime Village saw the highest concentration of lightning strikes in Alaska (3 per square kilometer), it comes nowhere near Mulhall, Oklahoma, where there were 302 strikes per square kilometer in 2022.
See each state’s lightning capital below, according to Vaisala’s report:
|State||Lightning capital||Strikes per square km.|
|Alaska||NE of Lime Village||3|
|New Hampshire||Waterville Valley||20|
|New York||Seneca Knolls||63|
|South Carolina||St. George||193|
|West Virginia||Mount Olive||133|
The state of Florida ranks highest for lightning density, with an average of 109.84 lightning strikes per square kilometer last year. The state of Texas ranks highest for the total number of lightning strikes, with 27,696,688 strikes last year.
The report also highlighted the unusually high levels of lightning within the eye of Hurricane Ian. The storm most likely had the highest number of strikes of any Atlantic system. Pacific systems far outpace Atlantic storms in the number of lightning strikes.
Lightning within the eyewall of a hurricane is a measure of the storm’s intensity. A threshold for a strong storm is called Enveloped Eyewall Lightning (EEL) and it occurs when the lightning has been throughout the eyewall for more than six hours.
Vaisala studies lightning strikes using the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) and the Vaisala Global Lightning Dataset (GLD360), which they say detect more than 2 billion “lightning events” every year.