The Southwest Florida Water Management District includes Florida’s notorious “Lightning Belt.” It is famous because of the number of thunderstorms and lightning strikes that occur here. They don’t call the hockey team the “Tampa Bay Lightning” for nothing. Florida’s lightning strikes are thought to be especially powerful, thanks to the huge, highly charged clouds that form here.
How powerful are they? Hot bolts have temperatures above 14,000°C. If they hit a tree, it will burst into flames. Cold bolts strike at 20,000 miles per second and can blast a tree into pieces.
All that energy is generated by Florida’s water cycle. In the summer, a lot of warm, humid air near the ground combines with unstable air above to create huge thunderclouds. Those clouds give us torrents of rain and a lot of lightning. It’s exciting to be in a thunderstorm, but stay inside away from windows and doors, stay off plugged in devices and stay out of the shower while the bolts are flying.