Pingtung County gets struck by lightning more often than any other part of the nation because of its hydrological environment, the Taiwan Power Research Institute said on Monday at the start of the lightning season.
Pingtung’s ground flash density, a lightning measurement defined as the number of lightning flashes striking ground per square kilometer per year, tops all administrative areas at 15.8, researchers said, citing a decade-long study.
“There have been fluctuations over the years, but the trend suggests that the county is the most vulnerable to lightning,” said institute researcher Chen Chien-hsien, who analyzes lightning events for the state-owned Taiwan Power Co.
According to the institute, there were 3,860 lightning strikes in Pingtung from April last year to March this year, accounting for 20 percent of the total strikes in the nation during that period.
The county’s location near the Gaoping River (高屏溪) contributes to heat convection above the area, leading to more extreme weather such as lightning, Chen said.
The fact that the county is less populated might also be a reason for the high incidence of lightning strikes, as isolation is one of the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will hit, he said.
There are also climate conditions that are favorable to lightning, Central Weather Bureau weather forecast director Cente Cheng Ming-dean (鄭明典) said.
Pingtung, the nation’s southernmost county, is the closest to the Intertropical Convergence Zone, an area known for unstable weather patterns, Cheng said.
Lightning events in Taiwan are most common in July and August, the bureau said.