Report reveals the most lightning-prone U.S. metropolitan areas and at-risk wind farms

aisala Xweather Annual Lightning Report 2023 global lightning density
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Press release
January 4, 2024

Report reveals the most lightning-prone U.S. metropolitan areas and at-risk wind farms

First-of-its-kind analysis shows over 77,000 lightning strikes near U.S. wind farms in 2023. The report also reveals the 20 most at-risk metropolitan areas in the continental United States, with Miami–Fort Lauderdale, Palm Bay–Melbourne and Cape Coral, Florida taking the top spots.

Vaisala, a global leader in weather, environmental, and industrial measurements, published its 2023 Annual Lightning Report today. Now in its seventh year, the Vaisala Xweather annual lightning report reveals a total of 242,101,157 in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning events in the continental United States in 2023 and 2,102,170,206 lightning events worldwide.

“2023 set a record for the number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States. By year-end, 19 of the 28 events with losses exceeding $1 billion were attributed to severe storms. Severe weather can also be life-threatening, especially without the right safety measures in place,” says Samuli Hänninen, Head of Vaisala Xweather.

“Lightning triggers wildfires, disrupts power, impacts businesses, and poses a significant hazard to life and property. Our 2023 annual lightning report focuses on the risks to wind farms and metropolitan areas. Early warning systems with severe weather forecasting and real-time lightning alerts play an important role in protecting people, businesses, and infrastructure from thunderstorms,” he continues.

The 2023 Annual Lightning Report highlights:

  • Wind farms at great risk of lightning damage: A first-of-its-kind analysis found a total of 77,494 lightning strokes at or near 1,500 wind farms in the United States in 2023. A wind farm in Hansford County, Texas, and another straddling Blaine and Custer Counties, Oklahoma, saw more than 1,000 strokes each.

    In Oklahoma, a wind farm in Pushmataha Country saw an average of 14.4 lightning strokes per turbine in 2023, followed by a wind farm in Freeborn County, Minnesota, with 12 lightning strokes per turbine. In total, three wind farms received more than 10 cloud-to-ground lightning strokes per turbine on average. On the flipside, one-third of U.S. wind farms saw no lightning strikes at all in 2023.

    Experts estimate that lightning damage costs the industry more than $100 million annually and accounts for 60% of blade losses and almost 20% of operational losses overall.
  • Most lightning-prone metropolitan areas: With 120,998 cloud-to-ground lightning strokes – more than 35 per square kilometer – Miami–Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was the most lightning-prone metropolitan area in the United States in 2023.

    Houston, Texas, saw 73,114 strokes, followed by Atlanta, Georgia, with 55,490 strokes. The Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington area, Texas, racked up 41,038 strokes. On the East Coast, the New York–Jersey City–Newark metropolitan area in New York and New Jersey had 28,132 lightning strokes.

    When counting lightning strokes per square kilometer, five metropolitan areas in Florida ranked highest for lightning risk in 2023: Miami–Fort Lauderdale, Palm Bay–Melbourne, Cape Coral, Orlando, and Jacksonville.
  • The tallest buildings in the U.S. attract sightseers and lightning: Altogether, 10 of the most famously tall buildings in the U.S. were struck by lightning 104 times in 2023. The Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois, was struck by lightning 38 times. In New York City, One World Trade Center came up second with 26 lightning strokes. In third place was 875 North Michigan Avenue (formerly known as the John Hancock Center), in Chicago, with 15 lightning strikes.

    Lightning activity around specific buildings varies considerably from year to year. Chicago has a higher average lightning density than New York City, yet, over the last five years, One World Trade Center was struck by lightning significantly more often than Chicago’s high-rise buildings.
  • The 2023 lightning capitals of the United States: With 42,388,860 lightning events in total, Texas had more lightning than any other state in 2023. When measuring lightning density, however, Florida takes the number one spot with 112.6 lightning events per square kilometer. The Vaisala Xweather Annual Lightning Report ranks all 50 states plus Washington D.C. by total lightning count and lightning density.
Vaisala Xweather Annual Lightning Report 2023 U.S. lightning density

The data comes from the Vaisala U.S. National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), the longest continuously operating and most scientifically validated lightning detection network in the world, and the Vaisala Global Lightning Dataset (GLD360). These two networks detect and pinpoint the location of in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning events 24 hours a day. Together, they detect 99.9% of thunderstorms worldwide, recording more than two billion lightning events every year.

Vaisala built its lightning detection expertise with decades of research in atmospheric physics and electrical engineering. For over 40 years, the company has been developing new technology to further improve the performance of its lightning networks. The increasingly sophisticated application of machine learning has kept the company at the top of its field, consistently delivering the highest quality lightning data in the world.

To view the Vaisala Xweather 2023 Annual Lightning Report, visit

You can also meet the Vaisala Xweather team at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, January 9–11, 2024, for an in-person briefing.

More information about Vaisala Xweather lightning detection capabilities and products
Images for the media

More information for the media:
Ryan Said, Senior Scientist, Vaisala Xweather
[email protected]

Niina Ala-Luopa, Head of Communications, Vaisala
Tel. +358 400 728 957
[email protected]     

About Vaisala
Vaisala is a global leader in weather, environmental, and industrial measurements. Building on over 85 years of experience, Vaisala provides observations for a better world, with space-proof technology even exploring Mars and beyond. We are a reliable partner for customers around the world, offering a comprehensive range of innovative observation and measurement products and services. Headquartered in Finland, Vaisala employs over 2,000 professionals worldwide and is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki stock exchange.

The Vaisala Xweather team is the weather intelligence partner of choice for leading organizations, governments, and developers worldwide. By combining proprietary observations with novel AI and machine learning, Xweather data and solutions deliver weather confidence that transforms weather from a challenge into an opportunity to drive positive business and environmental impact.



Edited on January 22, 2024: The number of events with losses exceeding $1 billion has been updated from 25 events to 28 events.