Lightning in our state - when, where and why
Posted January 9, 2012
The National Weather Service office in Raleigh is highlighting some of their research efforts and results this week, and I thought I'd pass along a link to one product that puts together some nice information about lightning strikes in North Carolina, in a compact but information-rich poster format. They've utilized lightning strike data of the type that you see us display on the air in real-time when storms are in the area to develop a climatology of lightning in our state based on the period 2003-2010.
The poster includes a nice series of maps showing strike density (and percent of positive flashes, which tend to be more intense and longer lasting, thus more damaging and deadly) around the state on an annual basis as well as broken down by season, bar graphs illustrating how lightning is distributed through the year (as you might imagine, strikes in the Raleigh area are strongly concentrated with in the May-August time frame) and throughout the day (showing a peak in the Raleigh area around 4-6 PM), and other pieces of interesting information, for example that our part of the state experiences lightning strikes on about 44 days out of the year on average, but Asheville and Wilmington both experience strikes more than 50 days a year (57 and 52, respectively).
They've done a nice job of also providing some bulleted comments to help interpret each set of graphs and tables. If you're interested in thunderstorms and their electrical impacts, be sure to check out the link. Note that it is in pdf format, and you'll probably want to zoom in some to be able to clearly read all the labels and legends.
Of course, right now we're in a part of the year that historically experiences very little lightning, but we will have to keep an aye on a system that will bring showers to the area on Wednesday of this week. Right now, it appears the air may remain a little too stable for thunder and lightning, but it is a close enough call that we couldn't entirely rule it out, especially south and east of the Triangle during the later afternoon and evening.