Weather Blog: Why does Florida have so many thunderstorms?

By Jamie Martin, Meteorologist
Last Updated: Thursday, February 01, 2018, 11:45 AM EST

Florida has the greatest number of thunderstorms in the U.S.: We average over 70 thunderstorm days per year, with the Gulf Coast experiencing more than 80, even 100 days a year.

  • Florida leads nation in number of thunderstorms
  • 3 things needed to form, develop thunderstorms
  • At home, go to interior room on lowest floor

Hazards within thunderstorms include lightning, hail, gusty winds, heavy rain that may cause flooding, and tornadoes.

One of the reasons Florida has so many thunderstorms is that many of the ingredients needed to create thunderstorms exist here almost every day.

Three things are needed in the atmosphere for thunderstorms to develop and grow: The atmosphere needs to be moist, unstable, and have a source of lift.

Because Florida is surrounded by water, there are plenty of sources of water vapor to feed thunderstorms. Florida receives plenty of sunlight, which warms the air near the ground and causes the air to become unstable. All thunderstorms have an updraft, where air rises rapidly to seven to 10 miles above the ground. This causes the moisture to turn into liquid water or ice, and that forms clouds and raindrops and forms the tall, towering clouds we can easily distinguish as “thunderstorm clouds.”

In order for thunderstorms to become strong, you need lift. Sources of lift can be an approaching frontal system or a sea breeze boundary forming during a typical summer afternoon.

Sometimes, a storm has only one thunderstorm cloud; other times, thunderstorms have a family of clouds, or cells, associated with them. Also, thunderstorms may go on for a very long time or be as brief as a few minutes.

When severe thunderstorms threaten your area, go to an interior room on the lowest floor of your building or home and stay away from windows. If time permits, move vehicles into garages to prevent hail or wind damage. In vehicles, avoid driving into severe storms; pull over safely and wait for the storm to pass.

You can always get alerts of incoming storms with your Spectrum News 13 app. Keep your phones nearby and charged.