More than 446 million lightning pulses lit up the sky in 2021

Earth Networks Releases 2021 U.S. Lightning Report

Germantown, MDEarth Networks, the global leader in weather and lightning monitoring and alerting, today released its 2021 U.S. Lightning Report. During 2021, Earth Networks detected 446,726,668 in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning pulses within the continental U.S., an increase of 1.2% from 2020. Over 35.5 million of those pulses were cloud-to-ground, representing 8% of all lightning activity.

The lightning activity detailed in the report was detected by the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network® (ENTLN), which monitors the combination of in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in over 100 countries. Sensor density is important for accuracy, and with over 1,800 sensors, a team of lightning scientists, and 24/7 expert meteorologists, the ENTLN is the most extensive and technologically advanced total lightning network in the world.

Once again, Texas led all states in total number of pulses at more than 69.4 million, followed by Florida, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The top states for total lightning pulse density (the number of lightning pulses per square mile per year) reflect an extremely active severe weather season for the Mid Atlantic, with Maryland and New Jersey ranking highest for 2021.

Other key findings include:

  • Of the 100 counties with the highest volume of lightning, 24 were located within Florida and had more than 120 Thunder Days (or days where lightning was detected) in 2021.
  • While the top 5 states remained the same from 2020, Florida reclaimed its status as the lightning king at the county level in 2021. Five counties in Florida had the highest lightning counts during 2021, including Palm Beach County, Collier County, Hendry County, Polk County, and Brevard County.
  • Earth Networks issued 29,245 Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts (DTAs) in 2021, reflecting an active severe weather year for the Midwest and an active monsoon year for the Southwest.


“The lightning data across the United States and southern Canada and adjacent waters for 2021 certainly tells the tale of various weather patterns that were evident during the year,” said Mark Hoekzema, Chief Meteorologist at Earth Networks. “The positive deviation from normal thunder days in the southwest U.S., especially over Arizona, is due to a very active 2021 Southwest Monsoon. This occurs in the summer, starting in late June and through early August, and brings regular bouts of thunderstorms to these desert areas. The busy monsoon season brought much needed rains to these areas. Other locations that had abnormally high activity were along the Gulf Coast where sea breeze storm activity was active during the summer, and also stalled fronts in late Spring and early Fall generated thunderstorm clusters that were more frequent than normal.

A summer storm track from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania and the New York City area was extra active and many areas saw increases over normal for the number of summer storms in those regions. Storms riding over an upper-level high pressure ridge over the southeastern U.S. created the positive anomalies.  And the antithesis to those positive areas caused by the ridge was a negative anomaly in the Tennessee and Ohio River Valleys, which created drier and more settled conditions, and thus fewer days with thunderstorms.

Lack of thunderstorms in the High Plains and central U.S. also contributed to expanding drought conditions in those areas.”  Mark Hoekzema, Chief Meteorologist at Earth Networks

ENTLN detects real-time lightning and provides early warning for severe weather events that could threaten public safety and operational efficiency. Earth Networks customers who subscribe to the weather visualization and alerting platform, Sferic Maps, also have the option to subscribe to a self-serve historical lightning archive to run their own detailed historical analyses on past lightning data. Earth Networks parent company AEM recently announced the release of a significant upgrade to the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network®, as our global lightning detection network has undergone major improvements. Our expert lightning scientists and engineers have been hard at work over the past two years, revamping our lightning network to deliver even better results to our customers across the globe. As a result, we now detect even more lightning and more accurately locate where that lightning occurs around the world.

Some of the most exciting improvements include:

  • 30-50% more lightning pulses detected globally
  • Improved location accuracy <100 meters (144% improvement)
  • Regional improvement in detection efficiency up to 95%
  • Improved cloud-to-ground and in-cloud lightning classification accuracy of 90%


To learn more about the enhancements to our global lightning detection network, join Postdoctoral Researcher, Dr. Elizabeth DiGangi, and Lightning Scientist, Dr. Jeff Lapierre in a free live webinar today at 2 p.m. ET. The webinar will explore highlights from the 2021 Earth Networks Lightning Report, insights into the technology in the updated lightning network, and measurable improvements to the customer experience.

To learn more about the Earth Networks Total Lightning Networkcontact Earth Networks.

About Earth Networks 

Earth Networks, an AEM brand, helps organizations mitigate financial, operational and human risk by providing environmental intelligence from the world’s largest hyperlocal weather network. Schools, airports, sports teams, utilities and government agencies rely on our early warning solutions to safeguard lives, prepare for weather events and optimize operations. Companies across all industries use our weather data to automate decisions regarding risk management, business continuity, and asset protection.

Media Contact:

John Lauer