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Influenced by weather phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña, the city of São Paulo has become a lightning hotspot. Florida has another title. What are these strange Darwin rooftop boxes? The Sunshine State is also the Lightning State. Data from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) shows that the number of bolts of lightning in the Southern Hemisphere’s most-populated city jumped from 28,000 in 2018 to 44,800 last year—a 60-percent increase. Try a lightning-quick quiz to find out how much you really know about this natural phenomenon. Over Christmas Day in the Darwin region, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said more than 91,000 strikes were recorded. "Lightning in a particular area really depends on how active the storm is and how fast it's moving.". Why can't the Top End pipe its abundant water south to drought-stricken states? He said many of the regions where lightning concentrates are sparsely populated, in poorer countries which may not have access to the latest technologies. Why does Darwin, Australia's closest capital city to Asia, offer so few international flights? "The updrafts and downdrafts can cause what we call charge separation, and electrons and positive ions will travel around in the cloud and the electrical imbalance we see as lightning is the discharge of electricity," said Jackson Browne, who is a meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology in Darwin. It is estimated there are five to 10 deaths a year from lightning strikes in Australia, with more than 100 people seriously injured.

However, this is not to say that Brazil is some sort of freakish lightning hotspot, the continental size of the country and its position in a large tropical zone make it no surprise that it attracts a lot of lightning. When the charge finds a point—either within the cloud or on the ground—with a highly opposed force, the lightning discharge takes place.  

"This whole area of Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the northern end of Australia, that's a major weather area on the planet," he said. Surrounded by mountains in three directions, and open to the warm & unstable air that sits above the Caribbean Sea, Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo is the "Lightning Capital Of The World". Florida may be the lightning capital of the United States but there are a few other areas around the world that have it beat. "We often read about lightning strikes on properties in Darwin, and recently a man was killed by lightning in WA. Pinto Júnior warns of the risks of lightning storms. Africa is the lightning capital of the world, according to map that tracked EVERY bolt of lightning to hit the earth for 18 years. "There's been some conjecture on that, but I'm not sure it really stands up to scientific thresholds.".

Quick and easy shelter is not always easy to come by in a lightning storm.

Keeping safe in a storm

Earth has a new lightning capital, according to a recent study using observations from the Lightning Imaging Sensor onboard NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission. Did you know, Florida has 17 out of the top 30 cities for lightning, making it live up to its reputation as the lightning capital of the U.S. Every collision causes an electrical charge, which builds up over time inside the cloud itself—not too dissimilar to the static effect of rubbing a balloon on a piece of fabric. Across northern Australia at this time of year, things are getting very, very sweaty. Mount Isa in Queensland is fifth at 471 worldwide, and Halls Creek in WA is sixth at 477. It's generally what the atmosphere's doing, those three ingredients that create the storms in the first place are the overriding factor," he said. "Is Darwin the lightning capital of the world?" Of the 500 most lightning prone spots in the world, Africa leads the pack with 283 separate areas, and the Great Lakes Region of Africa—home to Kabare—is an epicenter of lightning …

Beaches in Brazil can be particularly dangerous locations on stormy days, so check the weather forecast before pitching your parasol and getting comfortable.
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