Lightning strikes are defined as electrical discharges caused by electrical imbalances in the sky. Lightning is one of the top three storm-associated killers.
The map at the top shows the frequency of lightning strikes in different parts of the world. The color yellow indicates the regions with the highest average of lightning strikes per square kilometer per year. The Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa), Colombia (South America), and the Caribbean islands stand out in this map as being regions frequently hit by lightning strikes.
In the U.S. a total of 28 lightning fatalities occurred in 2012. The Southern states seem to be prone to lightning strikes. In 2012, Florida experienced 5 lightning fatalities, followed by the state of Texas with 3.
Temperatures for the U.S. contiguous states in 2012 were 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than the previous record temperatures of 1998. Based on preliminary data the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) created the map above, where it can be clearly seen that across the nation warmer temperatures were registered. Nineteen states from Massachusetts to Utah, experienced record warmer temperatures.
2012 was also a year of record low levels of precipitation, below average. Drier than average conditions affected the central parts of the United States, with negative consequences for agriculture. The winter season 2011-2012 was affected by higher than normal warm temperatures as well.
Temperatures on the Earth’s surface and moisture levels in the atmosphere have been on the rise. These two factors might be at the root of the drastic change in weather patterns causing severe droughts, heat waves, heavy rains and other extreme weather phenomena.
As the economic damage from Hurricane Sandy is still being evaluated, we took a look at the damage from weather/climate-related disasters over the past 30 years. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration keeps detailed statistics of all weather disasters in the US. One of the visualizations the NCDC has created is a thematic map of billion-dollar weather events, which can be seen above. The map shows the number of events that caused at least a billion dollars in damage by state. Southern states suffered the most damage up until 2011. The colors in the map may look significantly different once the total tally of Sandy is calculated.