Thunder is not something one thinks about in Youngstown during the winter time. However, there is a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast Monday for the first time in awhile.
The chance of thunderstorms brought a question to my mind: When was the last time Youngstown had a thunderstorm?
Let’s dive into the data and see exactly when the last thunderstorm was.
The last time a thunderstorm occurred near the Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport was at 12:36 p.m. on September 25, which was 142 days ago!
Now, there needs to be some clarity added here. This was the last time that thunder was reported at the airport. Theoretically, there could have been thunder since this date that the airport sensors did not pick up.
However, the lightning detection of the weather station at the airport can detect cloud-to-cloud strikes up to five miles away and cloud-to-ground strikes up to 10 miles away.
Therefore, this is probably a decent indicator of the last time thunder was reported in the area.
How many thunderstorm days locally per year?
During the warmer months, Youngstown experiences plenty of thunderstorm activity. How many days of thunderstorms are there per year in the Valley? How does this stack up to the rest of the country?
During the period from 1993 through 2018, the Valley averages around 36 to 45 days with thunder a year. Relative to a large majority of the United States, this is on the low end of the spectrum.
Unsurprisingly, central and southern Florida report the most days of thunder per year with over 100. This is due to the abundance of heat and moisture nearly year round.
However, you might be surprised to see a secondary maximum in the desert southwest. This is due to the monsoon season that occurs in the summer months when warm and moist air is transported over the mountains causing frequent thunderstorms.
What time of year is lightning most common here?
If you have lived in the Valley for a long time, then you know that lightning and thunder are most common in the summer months. However, did you know, statistically speaking, there is one week where lightning is more common than all the others?
I just found this cool website today that provides lightning statistics for areas across the United States. The following maps were produced by the Lightning Climatology website.
The map below is the weekly by hour total count of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes between the years 1988-2017 within 10 miles of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport.
For example, on the chart below, there have been 402 reported cloud-to-ground lightning flashes reported within 10 miles of the airport between May 7th-13th from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. during the period of record.
In total, there were 90.2K cloud-to-ground flashes reported at the airport. The most flashes have occurred from July 23-July 29.
You will notice that a majority of the flashes occur during the afternoon hours into the evening between the months of May 1 and October 1.
Lightning has occurred during the week of February 26-March 4 in the past. Monday, the best chance for lightning will around 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. It looks like there has been a total of 44 flashes reported at these times during the period of record.
Monday will be interesting to see if we break the thunder-less streak. You can watch the Youngstown weather radar to track the storms tomorrow.