Southwest into Central Florida is the hot spot for thunderstorms, according to a new National Weather Service chart on the average annual days with thunderstorms

What You Need To Know

  • Summer thunderstorm season is underway

  • Daily storms are more likely in Florida

  • Most afternoon storms aren't severe

  • Lightning is the top hazard

A thunderstorm day is when thunder happens at least once during the 24-hour period. The area just inland from Naples and Fort Myers leads the nation with over 108 days a year on average. West-Central and the rest of South Florida aren't far behind, with 99 to 108 days a year.

This has nothing to do with the intensity of the storms. Notice the “Tornado Alley” region from North Texas to Central Oklahoma and up into Kansas has about half as many thunderstorm days as Florida. However, those thunderstorms are more likely to be severe with large hail and tornadoes. Most Florida summer thunderstorms, which happen almost daily, aren’t severe.

Also, notice the high number of thunderstorm days in the mountains of the southwestern U.S. These occur in a relatively short monsoon season in the summer, which means there is probably a thunderstorm over the higher terrain just about every day in the two or three warm months.

Back to our Florida thunderstorms: Remember, lightning is the biggest hazard. If you can hear thunder, you should be indoors. The sound of thunder travels about 12 miles from the lightning strike, and lightning can strike about 8 to 10 miles from the parent thunderstorm. The sound of thunder is a good sign that you are in the strike zone. 

Most Floridians who are hit by lightning are hit by one of the first or last strikes from a thunderstorm. This means people are taking shelter during the mature stage of heavy rain, but they aren’t seeking shelter soon enough and are resuming outdoor activities too soon. 

You should wait 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder before going back outside. So, if you’ve waited 15 minutes and you hear thunder again, reset and wait another 30 minutes to be safe.

Your best friends to be aware of Florida thunderstorms is Klystron 9, which is always on Bay News 9, and with lightning alerts on the Spectrum News app.