Weather Anomalies and Weird Stuff

As I usually do at least once a day, I just checked this site to see what’s ahead for the weather. Although there are a few places with active precipitation, for the most part it’s a clear picture. Sure it will change, but I got to wondering what the record might be for a totally clear US weather map lasting more than a few hours. Anybody know where such records might be kept?

Along the way I have heard/read that lightning is striking the earth at some ungodly rate, more like several hundred times a minute or something as weird as that. If the entire USA section of the earth isn’t even getting rain at the moment, it must mean that other sections of the globe are going through hell at this time.

Most of the weather radar sources I check are either very local or no larger in scope than the USA. Now and then The Weather Channel will show specific areas around the globe, especially during hurricane season or when some big event (like the Iraq War) is going on elsewhere. But I don’t know of a convenient weather tracking website for the entire globe at all times.

Do you?

No idea. I do recall one day long ago (early 90s?) in April where the only precip in the US was over Vermont, and the Florida Keys.

Most of the lightning around the globe is in the tropics, South America, Africa, and Indonesia. I’m sure the 200 strikes per second figure isn’t true all the time, it’s more of an average.

For satellite imagery, there are many sites out there. Can try the Satellite Applications Branch at or (click under satellite imagery, then International. Plenty more sites out there as well.

More actually. On the order of 100 times per second.

Also note that lightning strikes can occur in the absence of clouds (dust in the atmosphere, for instance, can build up a charge). Also, some places seem more prone to lightning than other places. IIRC Florida by far has the most lightning strikes of any state in the US.

Remember though that the earth is a pretty big place. A ground strike only affects, say, 1 square meter of ground (I honestly do not know but for simplicity I will go with it…I think if you are within a meter of a lightning strike you will be affected). The surface area of the earth is roughly 150,000,000 square kilometers (or 150,000,000,000 square meters). If we go with the lighthing affects 1 sq. meter then .001% of the surface of the earth gets “touched” in this fashion per day. Then consider about 70% of the earth is water and most land is uninhabited and the worries to people are not so great. That said some 60-70 people per year do get struck by lightning.

If it were 150 million (1.5 x 10[sup]8[/sup]) km[sup]2[/sup], and there are 1000 meters in a km, then it would be 150,000,000,000,000 (1.5 x 10[sup]14[/sup]) m[sup]2[/sup].

However, this site says that the earth’s surface area is in fact 5.096 x 10[sup]8[/sup] km[sup]2[/sup].

Checking the national radar map again this morning I see that there are quite a few more areas with precip. It occurred to me that something as weird as no precip at all in the USA would be a situation where ALL of the USA and nowhere else on earth getting precip would be a noteworthy weather record.

Also, I seem to recall in one of those weird records books or websites some mention of a place in the Northwest, maybe even Canada, where the temperature dropped something like 60 degrees in a matter of minutes. Anybody know where that piece of trivia might be found?


(Site maintained by Phil Plait, a Doper! See )

Thanks a heap, Duckster.

Math never really was my thing so thanks for the correction but my site says there is 1.5x10[sup]8[/sup] km[sup]2[/sup].

Not arguing so much as trying to poitn out I didn’t pick the number out of think air.

Ack…apparently my spelling is as bad as my math.
*…point out I didn’t pick the number out of thin air.

Both figure are correct - one is the total surface, the other the area of dry land