On the great big list of summertime parental responsibilities, keeping your kid from getting struck by lightning is pretty close to the top. After all, a swarm of bees can hunt them down, but lightning? What are the chances? According to 3 decades of weather patterns, the answer depends largely on where you’re asking it.
Tableau, a site devoted to clarifying data through interactive graphs (everyone’s favorite), compiled The World Meteorological Organization data from 1961 to 1990 to give you the short answer: Florida. The state absorbed about 43 percent of the lightning in the U.S., and Alabama followed as a distant second with about 17 percent. The top 5 cities for lightning striking were also located in the crocs capital of the world — Fort Myers (where lightning strikes about 88 days a year), Tampa (82.7 days a year), Tallahassee (82.5 days a year), Orlando (81.8 days a year), and West Palm Beach (76.8 days a year). Whoever started calling Florida the Sunshine State must’ve been fried from all that lightning.
This could be interpreted as yet another reason to make fun of Florida, but maybe use it as an opportunity to explain to your kids how lightning actually works, with these tips from an lightning physicist. For example, an actual lightning bolt is only about as wide as your finger but can be 5 times hotter than the sun. And lightning that strikes the ocean can still fry you on the sand! So … do they really want to go to Disney World?