(WOWK) – Lightning is the most frequent severe weather phenomenon. While thunderstorms and lightning strikes are common, it does not mean that they aren’t dangerous. Take this recent event as an example. Here’s how much frequent lightning was over the past year in the WOWK-TV viewing area.

Lightning density ratio 2022 vs previous years

Lightning events are down for most of the country this year, but we did see more lightning than normal in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southeastern Ohio.

The two main methods to calculate the frequency of lightning events are: total lightning count, and total lightning density.

Total lightning count is what it says on the surface. It counts the number of lightning strikes in a given region throughout the course of the year. This metric tends to favor regions that cover a larger area. For example, Texas has the highest total lightning count of the 50 states but ranks 10th in lightning density due to the state’s large size and thunderstorms being far less common in the southwestern portion of the state.

Total Lightning Strikes in WOWK-TV Viewing Area

West Virginia ranks 30th in total lightning count in 2022 (was 33rd in 2021)
Ohio ranks 19th in total lightning count in 2022 (was 22nd in 2021)
Kentucky ranks 15th in total lightning count in 2022 (was 17th in 2021)
Texas ranks 1st in total lightning count with 27,696,688 strikes in 2022.

Total lightning density is slightly more complex. Lightning density takes the total lightning count and divides it by the area of the region. This metric favors regions where lightning events tend to be more evenly distributed. For example, Washington D.C. ranks 9th in lightning density despite ranking 51st in total lightning count due to its small size.

Lightning Density for WOWK-TV Viewing Area

West Virginia ranks 20th in total lightning density in 2022 (was 28th in 2021)
Ohio ranks 16th in total lightning density in 2022 (was 21st in 2021)
Kentucky ranks 8th in total lightning density in 2022 (was 14th in 2021)
Florida ranks 1st in lightning density with 109.84 strikes per square km in 2022.

State lightning capitals are the city or town in the state that saw the highest total lightning density in the year.
The lightning capital of West Virgnia this year is Mount Olive with 133 lightning events per square km
The lightning capital of Ohio is Willow Wood with 153 lightning events per square km.
The lightning capital of Kentucky is Blackford with 260 lightning events per square km.
The lightning capital of the US is Four Corners Florida with 474 lightning events per square km.

Total lightning density per county 2022

In West Virginia lightning strikes are most common in the western part of the state, and the northern panhandle. This lines up with the historical normals for the state.

In Ohio lightning strikes are normally seen in the southern part of the state. While this year we did see a fair amount of lightning in southern Ohio northwestern Ohio saw more lightning than normal this year.

In Kentucky lightning strikes tend to be evenly distributed with a slight bias towards the eastern part of the state. 2022 was close to matching that trend with slightly less lightning than normal in northern Kentucky.

Click here to read the full lightning report.