Tag Archives: lighting

What’s the real US lightning capital? These researchers say it’s not Florida

For many years, Florida has been described as the lighting capital of the United States. Its unique location, surrounded by warm water, provides everything needed for thunderstorms to form – especially during the summer. The record has surprisingly never been disputed – until now.

Image credit: Flickr / Skyseeker

Vaisala, a Finnish environmental monitoring company, found that Oklahoma has had slightly more lightning bolts per square kilometer over the last five years. The margin was slim. Florida’s 82.8 strikes per kilometer over the last five years barely edged Oklahoma’s 83.4 flashes, according to Vaisala’s estimations. Still, it’s significant — and probably enough to crown Oklahoma as the lightning state.

The findings were shared by Chris Vagasky, a meteorologist and lightning applications manager at Vaisala. The results have surprised meteorologists in the US. Still, Vagasky argued that the numbers are so close together that makes it “hard to say” whether one state has taken over another one as the record holder in lightings. 

Vagasky told AccuWeather that the numbers paint a differing picture of how lightning is impacting each of these states. Vaisala’s National Lightning Detection Network registers about 95% of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes, and between 50% and 60% of in-cloud discharges – with data dating to the late 1980s in the US. 

“In Oklahoma, you’re getting a lot more in-cloud lightning, so you see a lot more of the lightning off in the distance,” Vagasky said. “Whereas in Florida you’re actually getting a little bit more of the cloud-to-ground lightning, which is the more dangerous type of lightning because it can impact people, plants, trees, houses and animals.”

Vagasky argued that Florida’s longtime reputation as the US lightning capital comes from the days when detection systems could only record cloud-to-ground lightning. But now, thanks to Vaisala’s detection technology, in-cloud strikes can trigger detection anywhere in the world. That’s why the top spot in the ranking has shifted. 

Florida is still very stormy

While Oklahoma gets fewer but larger storms with more lighting rates, Florida is known for its seemingly daily barrage of sea-breeze thunderstorms during the summertime. Most thunderstorms in Florida only last a half-hour to an hour but they generate turrets of cold air that can later produce additional storms. 

Vaisala’s data set showed that Oklahoma County, which includes Oklahoma City, averages 120.8 lighting events per square kilometer per year, or about 312.9 per square mile annually. Meanwhile, Orange County, Florida has 159 events per square kilometer per year. That’s 412.3 per square mile. 

Other interesting findings showed that Louisiana, for example, comes in third place of the ranking in the US, averaging 71.9 events per square kilometer per year. Alaska, which isn’t covered by the National Lightning Detection Network, wasn’t included in the study. Globally, Singapore is the lighting capital, with 127 events per square kilometer. 

“Vaisala owns and operates the global operating data set and we detect lightning pole to pole all around the world,” Vagasky toldAccuWeather. “A couple years ago we detected lightning just 32 miles away from the North Pole, so that probably woke up Santa’s reindeer at the time.”

Earth Networks, another environmental monitoring company that operates its own lightning detection network around the world, told The Washington Post that its data does not support Oklahoma as having overtaken Florida. In 2020, four of the top five most lightning-prone counties in the US were in Florida, according to Earth Networks.

Leaving rankings aside, lightings shouldn’t be ignored. A strike can injure or even kill an individual in a variety of ways, from direct strikes to ground currents to lesser-known types of lightning called sidewinders. The odds of being struck are one in 15,300 over the course of a lifetime (defined as 80 years) according to the National Weather Service.

Cheaper, brighter and easier to manufacture LEDs created from organic-inorganic hybrid class of materials

Florida Researchers have developed a new class of LEDs that may change the lighting and display industry of the future.

Hanwei Gao on left and Biwu Ma on right, looking at their new LED. ( Image Credit: Bruce Palmer/Florida State University)

Florida State University’s Hanwei Gao, an Assistant Professor of Physics and Biwu Ma, an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering have already published their results in Advanced Materials, and their study has been well received. They basically used organometal halide perovskites: a type of material also used in some solar panels, which has a number of remarkable properties. In fact, perovskites have been hailed by many as potentially revolutionary for LEDs, but so far, a number of experiments have failed to obtain the desired efficiency.

But Gao and Ma pushed on, firmly believing in the material’s ability to deliver. They used the synergy of synthetic chemistry and device engineering to tweak the material properties, ultimately engineering the device architecture just as they wanted. The results are impressive. Not only is it much brighter, but it’s also cheap and fairly easy to make.

To put “brighter” in perspective, LEDs like those in your computer emit approximately 400 candelas per square meter – the candela is the measure unit for luminous intensity; these new LEDs go out at 10,000 candelas per square meter. Interestingly, this increase in luminosity doesn’t make things more expensive. In fact, the improved perovskites that the duo designed are more stable than standard hybrid perovskites in humid air, and this means that the production is not only cheaper, but also faster: it only takes about an hour to produce the material.

LED technologies are very important for reducing electricity consumption, with the U.S. Department of Energy asserting that LED lighting uses at least 75% less energy than regular incandescent lighting. However, while LEDs are more efficient, their implementation for general lighting has generally been slow, and there are many concerns about this sluggishness. Developing better materials and even better LEDs could speed up that process, but it could do even more than that: the display of most computers, laptops and smartphones uses LEDs, and again, new technology could not only decrease consumption, but also increase user experience.

Journal Reference: Bright Light-Emitting Diodes Based on Organometal Halide Perovskite Nanoplatelets.