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County Has Fewest Lightning Strikes

January 16, 2019

Vaisala, a global environmental and industrial measurement company with U.S. headquarters in Louisville, released its annual lightning report Jan 8.

The report mentions Colorado had just under a half million lightning strikes in 2018 and Sedgwick County had the highest flash density in the state, followed by Logan, Yuma, Phillips and Kit Carson counties.

Broomfield County had just 137 lightning strikes, and Boulder County had 3,207 strikes last year. In Boulder County, the average flash density in 2018 was about 1.72 per square-kilometer, almost the same as the 10-year average flash density for the period 2009-2018.

Weld County had the most strikes in the region, with 38,384 negative cloud-to-ground flash counts. Larimer County had 12,520.

Flash density is the measure of total amount lightning (negative cloud to ground flashes) per square kilometer per year, said Brooke Pearson, Vaisala’s global solutions manager for lightning. It helps utility companies to understand the potential lightning threat to their infrastructure to protect it better, he said.

Vaisala’s National Lightning Detection Network, which is used by U.S. meteorologists and the National Weather Service, compiled the data that was released at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Phoenix.

The data showed U.S. experienced more than 17.8 million negative cloud-to-ground flashes (the most common type of lightning that strikes the ground) in 2018, down 11 percent from the 10-year average (2009-2018).

“The likely reason for the reduction is simply that there were fewer big storms, particularly in parts of the Midwest,” stated Ryan Said, lightning research scientist at Vaisala, in the company news release.

Last year, Texas had the highest lightning strike count, Florida had the highest density of lightning strikes.

The news release also stated, “According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. averaged 51 annual lightning strike fatalities and several hundred injuries each year during the last 20 years. In fact, the only weather events causing more U.S. fatalities than lightning are floods.”

Pratik Joshi: 303-684-5310, pjoshi@dailycamera.com