FloridaGardener's Blog
Jun 15

Written by: host
6/15/2009 10:10 PM

NOAA Public Domain Lighting Strike Key Colony BeachThese are the facts: 1) Florida is the thunderstorm capital of the United States; 2) The "lightning belt" in Florida is an area from between Orlando and Tampa to south along the west coast to Fort Myers and east to Lake Okeechobee; 3) Florida leads the nation in lightning strikes and deaths; and 4) April, May and June are the peak months for lightning in Florida.

Florida lightning is the strongest in the world and researchers believe that Florida lightning is particularly powerful because of our tall, more highly charged storm-cloud formations. It is important that gardens understand that they need to seek shelter when storm clouds gather. The odds of being stuck by lightning are like the odds of hitting the lottery (only better in this state).

According to here are some more Florida lightning facts:

  • Most lightning strikes occur at the beginning and end of a storm
  • The average lightning bolt is six miles long
  • Lightning reaches 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, four times as hot as the surface of the sun
  • A cloud-to-ground lightning channel can be 2 to 10 miles long
  • Voltage in a cloud-to-ground strike is 100 million to 1 billion volts.
  • Florida's lightning frequently packs a charge of more than 45,000 amperes.
  • In Florida, lightning kills an average of 10 people a year
  • Ninety percent of Florida Wildfires are caused by lightning
  • In Florida, thunderstorms produce more than 1,000,000 lightning strikes per year
  • Most people (99.99%) that are struck by lightning are not hit directly; rather they suffered a shock from a side flash.
  • Virtually no one has ever survived a direct lightning strike and lived to tell about it.


Where does lightning tend to strike? The answer is anywhere it wants and not always where you might expect. Lightning follows the path of least resistance. When lightning begins to travel downward from a cloud, many objects that have built up a charge emit streamers. This could come from anything such as a blade of grass, a power pole or a gardener holding a shovel. The first streamer to make contact with the bolt defines the final path the lightning will take.

Lightning is a sudden discharge of electricity between charged regions of thunderclouds and the ground. Only about 25 percent of lightning strikes are cloud-to-ground. The rest are either cloud-to-cloud or intra-cloud.

Links to Florida lightning trackers:

Boynton Beach
Cape Coral
New Port Richey
St. Petersburg

Remember, if you can hear or see lightning it CAN get you. Seek shelter immediately!

Copyright ©2009 Paul J. Erdek,


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