UPDATE: Spokesmen for Vaisala said that that the derecho put down 129,000 cloud-to-ground strokes between Chicago and the East Coast June 29th & 30th, but was only tens of miles wide, which isn't much given the large area where it did damage. They say: "On the very big lightning days, there tends to be a long intense squall line, perhaps an MCS, and a lot of activity in the SE states at the same time."
1,196,749 lightning strokes* hit the ground in the U.S. (roughly continental) in the last four days, per Vaisala data (see map below). About half a million of those strikes hit the ground/trees/buildings in the mid-Atlantic. Sounds like an incredible amount of lightning...
So was this weekend's lightning a record?
The data doesn't appear to indicate that it is. Data from Vaisala shows that over 2,200,000* lightning strokes** occurred in the Continental U.S. on July 22-23, 2008 (the largest 2-day total from records between January 2008 and March 2011; I'm working to update this data).
Next question: Is lightning frequency increasing?
It doesn't seem to be, with the limited data set that I have. Because lightning detection is always improving, in theory more lightning can be detected, especially outside the Continental U.S. The graph above shows lightning flashes* from Jan. 1 through April 13 for the last several years.
How much lightning strikes the Earth each year? A lot. This is something I've blogged about before.
Vaisala's worldwide lightning network detected 309,959,570 strokes** in the "summer" (May-Oct) of 2010. Lightning density is plotted on the map below. The U.S. seems to be the lightning country capitol of the world, but NASA says, on average, Africa is the winner.
*563,536 "flash counts" - to get "strokes"** multiply by 2.4. **Technically, a "flash" is one lightning strike which can contain more than one stroke (as discussed in my blog "Lightning Lingo").
The Simpsons Marathon has started on FXX. Today, I look at the number of episodes featuring weather, share some weather-related quotes, and other tidbits:
History was made by Hurricane Iselle this week and I have some of the most impressive images and maps from the storm.
We're monitoring a total of six storms in the Atlantic and Pacific, and some of them are record-breakers.
As is often true this time of year, the tropics are busy, with five notable named storms. Among them are three storms near Hawaii, and Bertha is back for the seventh time.
There's been a lot of news on amateur drones since I tested the DJI Phantom Quadcopter for storm chasing purposes last fall. Not to drone on, but let's take it from the top.
Today I'm pleased to announce a new suite of world radar maps and advisories from the national weather services of several countries on AccuWeather.com.