Lots of lightning on Thursday night; hail reported on Friday

If you took photos of Thursday night’s lightning, please share! E-mail them to ssphoto@sunsentinel.com.

It was an amazing light show in the sky.

In the span of 15 minutes, starting at about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday,  thunderstorms spit out more than 580 lightning bolts over South Florida, the National Weather Service in Miami said.

In all, over the course of the evening, thousands of lightning strikes blazed across the night sky, forecasters said.

Additionally, Thursday night’s storms produced penny-sized hail and strong wind gusts, said meteorologist Kim Brabander.

“We didn’t receive any reports of damage,” he said.

On Friday, more thunderstorms rolled across South Florida, producing heavy rains. Hail was reported pelting Southern Palm Beach County and north Broward County.

What caused all the electrical flashes?

“It was a cluster of storms that merged together over the Lake Okeechobee region and shifted southeast,” meteorologist Chuck Caracozza said.

More storms are likely to form on Friday afternoon or evening, the result of a low-pressure area that moved across South Florida, triggering instability in the atmosphere, he said

“As we move into Saturday, the chance of storms lessens to 20 percent,” Caracozza said.

Although no one was reported killed or injured on Thursday, lightning is often deadly.

On average, it kills 54 people each year across the nation, with about five of those in Florida. In the past five years, 23 people have been killed by lightning in the Sunshine State.

The latest victim was Lorenzo Magdaleno, 51, who was fishing in a boat on Lake Okeechobee on June 8.

Lightning is the result of turbulent and conflicting columns of air in thunderstorms building up and releasing electrical charges. It is most prolific in South Florida in July and August.

Florida is known as the lightning capital of the nation because it sees an average of 1 million strikes per year, more than any other state.

The weather service urges residents to remain indoors or seek shelter when thunderstorms approach.

Copyright © 2015, South Florida
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