Lightning & Thunderstorms in Florida

Florida Thunderstorms

When it rains in Florida, it usually pours! Florida’s Thunderstorms are beautiful and powerful and typically short-lived dropping inches of rain in a short period of time. These thunderstorms are formed by the moist summer air and hot summer days combining causing the air to lift and form massive Cumulonimbus Clouds.

The majority of Florida’s Thunderstorms come in the summer months in the afternoon, though they occur all year long. What is unique about Florida’s storms is the relatively short duration of an intense storm. They move through an area where one minute it is sunny skies, then 10 minutes later the skies turn black and gusty winds, heavy rains, thunder and lightning. Wait 10 more minutes and the storm can blow over!

Lightning in Florida

Florida is often referred to as the “Lightning Capital of the U.S.” due to its high frequency of lightning strikes. With an average of 1.2 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes each year, no other state experiences more lightning strikes per square mile than Florida. Unfortunately, this also makes Florida rank highest in lightning fatalities.

Lightning is most prevalent during thunderstorms, with the majority of strikes occurring within the storm clouds themselves. Florida’s lightning activity is more pronounced in the afternoon and evening hours, when thunderstorms are most active. These storms often develop rapidly, with intense lightning displays.

Did you know?

You can tell how close a lightning strike is by counting the seconds between the lightning flash and the resulting thunder. The general rule is, for every 5 seconds you count, lightning is 1 mile away. Even if it is not raining where you are, you can still get struck by lightning. Lightning can travel as far as 10 miles from its thunderstorm.

More Lightning Facts:

  • Lightning travels at a speed of 270,000 mph
  • The flashes of lightning we see when lightning strikes travels at the speed of light which is 670,000,000 mph
  • A lightning bolt is about 54,000F degrees which is approximately 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun
  • Lightning bolts are only about 2-3 cm in width and typically extend for 2-3 miles
  • Most people are struck by lightning before and after the rain.
  • Lightning injures many more people than it kills, though it can cause permanent injuries in those survivors.
  • On average, in Florida, lightning kills 10 and injure 40 people each year.


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