Thunderstorms are a regular occurrence during the spring and summer months for large swaths of the United States. As storm systems sweep across the country, the collision of warm tropical air with cooler, drier air to the north, known as a front, triggers these storms. However, this happens much more frequently in the stormiest cities in the US than in other areas.
Using official climate data from NOAA, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 stormiest cities in the US based on the average number of days with thunderstorms per year. So grab your umbrella and join us on this tour of our country’s stormiest locales.
What is the stormiest city in the US?
You might be surprised that the state with the most thunderstorms yearly is also called the Sunshine State: Florida. The top five stormiest cities on our list are all in Florida. That’s because the summer heat combined with the state’s notoriously high humidity create the perfect conditions for thunderstorms to form almost daily.
If you’re looking for Florida to live up to its nickname, it’s better to visit during winter.
- Fort Myers, Florida: Fort Myers tops our list with an average of 89 thunderstorm days yearly.
- Tampa, Florida: Just a few hours north of Fort Myers, Tampa holds the number two spot with 82 thunderstorm days per year. Lightning often illuminates the city’s famous skyline.
- Tallahassee, Florida: Florida’s capital city is no stranger to storms, with an average of 81 thunderstorm days yearly. The city’s residents are well-prepared for the rumble of thunder and crack of lightning.
- Orlando, Florida: The city known for its theme parks and tourist attractions — Most notably Walt Disney World — also gets its fair share of thunderstorms. Visitors and residents can expect about 80 stormy days per year in Orlando.
- West Palm Beach, Florida: Adding to Florida’s stormy reputation, West Palm Beach has an average of 79 thunderstorm days yearly. The city’s beautiful beaches are occasionally interrupted by the dramatic display of stormy skies.
- Lake Charles, Louisiana: Leaving Florida behind, we head to Lake Charles, Louisiana. This city experiences an average of 76 thunderstorm days yearly, making it the stormiest city outside of Florida.
- New Orleans, Louisiana: A city known for its vibrant culture, New Orleans also sees its fair share of storms. The Big Easy averages 75 thunderstorm days per year.
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana: The state capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, is another city with frequent thunderstorms. It has an average of 74 stormy days per year.
- Mobile, Alabama: Our first entry from Alabama, Mobile sees an average of 73 thunderstorm days yearly. The coastal city is known for its historic architecture, rich history, and stormy weather. It’s also one of the rainiest US cities if you measure it by annual precipitation.
- Jackson, Mississippi: Rounding out our top 10 list is Jackson, Mississippi, with an average of 72 thunderstorm days yearly. Despite the frequent storms, the city boasts a diverse culture and rich history, making it an interesting place to visit.
When do the stormiest cities in the US typically see the most thunderstorms?
If you’re a fan of stormy weather, consider visiting these cities between June and September, typically the stormiest months in the above locations. Of course, most people would rather avoid stormy weather while on vacation. Additionally, the Deep South is the hottest and most humid at this time — so visiting in Spring and Fall will be drier and far more comfortable.
However, there’s one huge caveat to this. Tornado season starts early in this part of the country, typically by March or April, before ramping up in what is traditionally known as “Tornado Alley.”
Why are these states so stormy?
The stormiest cities in the US are primarily located in two regions: the southeastern United States and the Gulf Coast. The stormy weather in these regions is primarily due to the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico meeting cooler air from the north. This creates ideal conditions for the formation of thunderstorms.
Additionally, these areas are prone to tropical storms and hurricanes, which can bring even more thunderstorms to the region. In Florida, the unique peninsula shape and its position between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico also contribute to the high frequency of thunderstorms.
In conclusion, if you love stormy weather or want to experience the raw power of nature, the cities on our list are prime destinations for you. The southeastern United States and the Gulf Coast are rich in culture, history, and thunderstorms. Just remember to pack an umbrella and be prepared for the awe-inspiring spectacle of Mother Nature at her most dramatic.