Lightning has a profound impact on many aspects of modern day society. Understanding its spatial distributions is fundamental in learning to coexist with its tremendous power. This study examined the spatial distribution of cloud-to-ground lightning over southern Michigan using data provided by DTE Energy Corporation in Detroit, Michigan. Flash density and 'lightning day' maps were produced for every year of the 1985 to 1995 study period and then averaged to determine long-term trends. A temporal analysis determined the distribution of lightning from the inter-annual to the diurnal scale. The spatial analysis uncovered both climatological patterns in lightning strikes and limitations in the efficiency of the lightning detection system. High inter-annual variability and a well-defined diurnal cycle are presented in the temporal analysis. The mean flash density for southern Michigan was determined to be 1.99 flashes per year/km2, while the mean days with lightning per year in each analysis grid cell was 3.46 days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalGreat Lakes Geographer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • Cloud-to-ground lightning
  • Lightning climatology
  • Southern Michigan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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