W.olfsburg is the German capital of lightning. There were 5.8 impacts per square kilometer there last year – more than in any other urban or rural district, according to measurements by Siemens’ lightning information service. In second and third place, the lightning atlas published on Thursday leads the city of Kempten and the district of Miesbach in Bavaria with 5.1 and 4.7 lightning bolts per square kilometer.
“What was remarkable about the 2020 lightning strike was that the storm fronts mainly took place in northern and southern Germany and practically excluded the center of Germany,” says Stephan Thern, head of the lightning information service at Siemens. “The fact that the front runners are increasingly to be found in the north is a development that we have only observed in recent years.” The lightning-richest day was June 13, 2020 with more than 89,000 impacts.
Significantly more lightning strikes in the current year
In total, there were almost 400,000 impacts in Germany last year – around 21 percent more than in 2019, which was, however, an extremely lightning-free year. In 2007, for example, there were more than a million impacts. Last year, however, it was too dry for such high values: Thunderstorms typically form at high temperatures and humidity.
In the current year, on the other hand, the weather is again significantly more lightning. By midnight last Tuesday, there had been almost as many lightning bolts as there were in all of 2020.
Last year’s lightning strikes led to around 200,000 reported claims at German insurers. There are fewer than ever since statistics were introduced in 1998, as the industry association GDV explains. However, at 1300 euros, the average damage is higher than ever. This is due to the increasingly better technical equipment in houses and households. The bottom line is that the total damage has increased by 10 to 260 million euros since 2019.
According to Siemens, last year the highest lightning density by federal state was in Hamburg with 1.9 per square kilometer, followed by Bavaria with 1.6 and Lower Saxony with 1.4. The lightning-poorest countries last year were Hesse and Thuringia with 0.6 each and Bremen with 0.5.
Last year Coburg and Bamberg were largely safe from lightning. In the two cities with the lowest lightning strike, only one or two lightning strikes were measured in the whole year. This corresponds to densities of 0.02 and 0.04, respectively. Mainz was in third place with 0.09 lightning bolts per square kilometer.
In Europe, the triangle of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia led the lightning rankings in 2020 with values of 8 to 10 lightning strikes per square kilometer. In Ireland and Scotland, on the other hand, it is only 0.3.
The lightning strikes are measured with the help of around 160 interconnected measuring stations in Europe. Although there are up to 350 kilometers between the sensors, the lightning strikes can be determined with an accuracy of up to 50 meters.