ORLANDO – In a new study, Florida was dethroned as the lightning capital of the country, ceding its status to Oklahoma.
The Sooner State had more lightning flashes per square kilometer than any other state in the country, according to an analysis by Vaisala Corp., a global weather surveillance company.
Vaisala's study recorded 10 billion lightning events from 2016-2020, and found Oklahoma averaged 83.4 lightning events per square kilometer a year. That's just ahead of the Sunshine State's average of 82.8.
The third most was Louisiana, with 71.9. According to a report by AccuWeather, Vaisala's study recorded both cloud-to-ground lightning and in-cloud lightning. Oklahoma's numbers appear to be more in-cloud lightning, typically seen from a distance.
However, Florida still appears to have more cloud-to-ground lightning; in particular, Orange and Seminole counties recorded the highest averages.
Both counties averaged 159 lightning events per square kilometer annually, leading the way for the most dangerous lightning areas in Florida.
Florida and Oklahoma's averages are electrifying compared to other states, but the U.S., on average, doesn't rate very high compared to other nations around the world. Singapore had the most lightning events annually with an average of 126 per square kilometer.
Last year, three people died in Florida due to lightning-related incidents. On Sept. 26 in Apopka, according to the Lightning Safety Council, Jesus Perez, 58, was grilling in a yard when he was hit by lightning while standing next to a tree. Other Florida deaths included: Jose Rivera, 41, who died on May 27 while working on a lawn in Port St. Lucie, and Raul Rome Teoba, 35, who died while doing roof work on May 28 in Middleburg.
Last year's national lightning death count of 17 is low compared to 2018 and 2019, which each had 21 fatalities. Experts believe the 2020 total is probably higher, but reporting on lightning took a back seat to other major news events, according to the Lightning Safety Council.
None of the reported deaths were in Oklahoma.