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FEATURE | Lightning

Not for the timid: Here's the world's most lightning-y place

Find Your Forecast
    Daniel Martins
    Digital News Reporter

    Friday, June 16, 2017, 12:45 - Next week marks National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, which is meant to remind people that when the skies turn stormy, it can be a genuine danger.

    Lightning can, and does, kill. In the U.S., The National Weather Service says an average of 49 people die from lightning strikes annually, along with hundreds more injured, with June, July and August seeing the vast majority of deaths and injuries.

    Some places are more prone than others to lightning. In the U.S., Texas, Florida and Oklahoma see on average the highest number of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, according to the Vaisala's National Lightning Detection Network. The city with the most claim to being America's stormiest is Fort Myers, FL, with some 88 storm days a year.

    If you can't stand even the thought of lightning, you might want to consider moving to San Francisco or San Diego in California, which average just three days a year of thunder and lightning displays. But whatever you do, don't move to the shores of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.

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    NASA occasionally crunches the numbers on where the most lightning strikes are detected on Earth, and last year, Lake Maracaibo was found to be the world's new lightning capital, with an astonishing 223 lightning flashes per square kilometre per year. The lake has a surface area of 13,000 km2, not counting the towns and cities clustered around its shore. It's prone to lightning storms due to cooler mountain breezes blowing over the surface of the lake's warm, shallow waters.

    The place on Earth with the most lightning strikes per year was previously believed to be in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo near border with Rwanda and Burundi.

    There's nothing comparable here in Canada, though as we've said, some cities in Canada are prone to thunderstorms due to their geography and climate, and some places within those cities are famously so.

    The Empire State Building, for example, is one of the nation's most famous lightning rod, though with only around 23 lightning strikes per year, it's definitely nowhere near Lake Maracaibo's range.

    BONUS VIDEO: Man narrowly avoids brutal lightning strike

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