Maps and statistics: lightning in Canada

Number of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in Canada, from 1999 to 2013, broken down by year

The table below shows the number of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes recorded in Canada from 1999 to 2013. The numbers range from a maximum of 2.963 million flashes in 2005, to the minimum of 1.5709 million flashes in 2009.

Number of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in Canada. See long description below.
Number of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in Canada. Click for more details.
Yearly number of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in Canada from 1999 to 2013
Year Millions of Flashes
1999 2.6
2000 2.5
2001 2.45
2002 2.4
2003 2.1
2004 2.0
2005 2.95
2006 2.4
2007 2.75
2008 2.0
2009 1.6
2010 2.2
2011 2.3
2012 2.25
2013 2.2

Average monthly cloud-to-ground lightning in Canada (1999 to 2013)

The table below shows the average number of lightning flashes in Canada, broken down by month. As you can see, July is the month that has the most lightning strikes, followed by August and June. It is interesting to note that lightning is reported in Canada in every month of the year.

Average monthly cloud-to-ground lightning in Canada (1999 to 2013)
Average monthly cloud-to-ground lightning in Canada. Click for more details.
Average monthly
cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in Canada (1999 to 2013)
Month Number of Flashes
January Less than 10, 000
February Less than 10, 000
March Less than 10, 000
April 20,000
May 110,000
June 490,000
July 895,000
August 595,000
September 150,000
October 25,000
November Less than 10,000
December Less than 10,000

Average dates for the beginning and ending of lightning season for Western and Eastern Canada

The length of the lightning season varies greatly across Canada, but shows one distinct pattern: the season becomes shorter the farther north one goes. In the North, the average season runs from mid-to-late May until late August-mid September. Over southern Ontario, the average lightning season extends from mid-March to early November. Lightning occurs virtually year round in the Pacific coastal region, over southern Nova Scotia, and offshore. 

Average date of beginning of the lightning season for Western Canada (1999-2013) 

Average date of beginning of the lightning season for Western Canada (1999-2013). See below for more details.

Average date of beginning of the lightning season for Eastern Canada (1999-2013) 

Average date of beginning of the lightning season for Eastern Canada (1999-2013). See below for more details.
Average dates for the beginning and ending of lightning season for Western and Eastern Canada. Click for more details.
Average date of beginning of the lightning season for Western and Eastern Canada
(1999-2013)
Area in Province or Territory Start Date Colour of Start Date
British Columbia - South Coast January 1 Dark Blue
British Columbia - North Coast ** see note below ** see note below
British Columbia - Interior March 15 Cyan
British Columbia - High Mountain Ranges May 15 Yellow
British Columbia - Southeast Mountains April 10 Light green
Yukon June 1 Orange
Yukon - South - small areas May 15 Yellow
North West Territories - South June 1 Orange
North West Territories - South - small areas May 15 Yellow
North West Territories - North East July 1 Red
North West Territories - North *** see note below *** see note below
Nunavut - South June 15 Orange-red
Nunavut - South - small areas July 1 Red
Nunavut - North *** see note below *** see note below
Alberta May 15 Yellow
Alberta - Southern areas April 10 Light Green
Alberta - Northern sections - small areas June 1 Orange
Saskatchewan May 15 Yellow
Saskatchewan - Southern areas April 10 Light Green
Saskatchewan - Southeastern sections - small areas March 15 Cyan
Saskatchewan - Northern sections - small areas June 1 Orange
Manitoba - Southern sections March 15 Cyan
Manitoba May 15 Yellow
Manitoba - Northern sections - small areas June 1 Orange
Ontario - South March 15 Cyan
Ontario - Southern - small areas February 1 Blue
Ontario - Central April 10 Light Green
Ontario - Central - small areas May 15 Yellow
Ontario - Central - small areas June 1 Orange
Ontario - North May 15 Yellow
Ontario - North - small areas June 1 Orange
Quebec - South April 10 Light Green
Quebec - Western sections - small areas March 15 Cyan
Quebec - Central - including Gaspé May 15 Yellow
Quebec - North June 1 Orange
Quebec - far Northern shores July 1 Red
New Brunswick April 10 Light Green
New Brunswick - North May 15 Yellow
Prince Edward Island (PEI) May 22 Yellow-Orange
Nova Scotia - Coastal areas January 1 Dark Blue
Nova Scotia - South March 15 Cyan
Nova Scotia - Cape Breton May 15 Yellow
Newfoundland June 1 Orange
Newfoundland - Southern Coastal areas March 15 Cyan
Newfoundland - Southern Coast - small areas February 1 Blue
Labrador June 1 Orange
Labrador - Western sections - small areas May 15 Yellow
Labrador - Southeast - offshore July 1 Red

** There are very few lightning strikes on the North Coast, but lightning strikes can occur all year round.

*** There are very few lightning strikes detected in the far north of Canada. For this reason, it is difficult to pinpoint when the lightning season begins and ends there. That said, the vast majority of lightning strikes occur in July and early August.

Average date of the end of the lightning season for Western Canada (1999-2013) 

Average date of the end of the lightning season for Western Canada (1999-2013). See below for more details.

Average date of the end of the lightning season for Eastern Canada (1999-2013) 

Average date of the end of the lightning season for Eastern Canada (1999-2013). See below for more details.
Average date of the end of the lightning season for Western and Eastern Canada. Click for more details
Average date of the end of the lightning season for Western and Eastern Canada (1999-2013)
Area in Province or Territory End Date Colour of End Date
British Columbia - South Coast December 15 Red
British Columbia - North Coast ** see note below ** see note below
British Columbia - Interior October 20 Yellow
British Columbia - Central Interior - small areas November 1 Orange
British Columbia - High Mountain Ranges September 15 Cyan
Yukon - South September 15 Cyan
Yukon - North August 15 Blue
North West Territories - South September 15 Cyan
North West Territories - South - small areas October 1 Light Green
North West Territories - North *** see note below *** see note below
Nunavut - South September 15 Cyan
Nunavut - South - small areas October 1 Light Green
Nunavut - North *** see note below *** see note below
Alberta September 15 Cyan
Alberta - Southern areas October 1 Light Green
Alberta - Northern sections - small areas September 1 Light Blue
Saskatchewan September 15 Cyan
Saskatchewan - South - small areas October 1 Light Green
Manitoba October 1 Light Green
Manitoba - small areas October 20 Yellow
Manitoba - South - small areas November 15 Orange
Manitoba - North September 15 Cyan
Ontario - South November 15 Orange
Ontario - Southern areas October 20 Yellow
Ontario - Southern areas - small areas December 1 Orange-Red
Ontario - Central October 1 Light Green
Ontario - Central - small areas October 20 Yellow
Ontario - North September 15 Cyan
Ontario - North - small areas October 1 Light Green
Quebec - Southwest October 20 Yellow
Quebec - Southeast September 15 Cyan
Quebec - Central - including Gaspé October 1 Light Green
Quebec Central - small areas October 20 Yellow
Quebec - North September 15 Cyan
Quebec - far Northern shores August 1 Blue
New Brunswick October 1 Light Green
New Brunswick - South - small areas November 15 Orange
Prince Edward Island (PEI) October 1 Light Green
Nova Scotia October 1 Light Green
Nova Scotia - South November 1 Orange
Nova Scotia - Cape Breton October 15 Yellow
Newfoundland September 15 Cyan
Newfoundland - Southern Coast December 15 Red
Newfoundland - Southern Coast - small areas November 1 Orange
Labrador September 15 Cyan
Labrador - small western areas October 1 Light Green

** There are very few lightning strikes on the North Coast, but lightning strikes can occur all year round.

*** There are very few lightning strikes detected in the far north of Canada. For this reason, it is difficult to pinpoint when the lightning season begins and ends there. That said, the vast majority of lightning strikes occur in July and early August.

Percentage of lightning occurring between 10:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. local time for Western and Eastern Canada (1999-2013)

Most of us associate lightning with thunderstorms that form during the day, driven by the heating that comes from the sun. However, in some areas of the country nocturnal lightning (lightning that occurs at night) can account for almost half of all lightning. This is seen over portions of east-central Alberta and the southern halves of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with an extreme of 65.7 per cent nocturnal lightning near Quill Lake, Saskatchewan. 

Percentage of lightning occurring between 10:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. local time for Western Canada

Percentage of lightning occurring between 10:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. local time for Western Canada (1999-2013). See below for more details.

Percentage of lightning occurring between 10:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. local time for Eastern Canada

Percentage of lightning occurring between 10:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. local time for Eastern Canada (1999-2013). See below for more details.
Percentage of lightning occurring between 10:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. local time for Western and Eastern Canada. Click for more details.
Percentage of lightning strikes occurring during the night between 10:30 pm and 10:30 am
Area in Province or Territory Percentage % Colour Representation
British Columbia - North Coast** 0 Dark Blue
British Columbia - outer South Coast 60 Orange/red
British Columbia - inner South Coast 20 Blue/cyan
British Columbia - Interior 10 Blue
British Columbia - High Mountain Ranges 25 Cyan
Yukon 10 Blue
Yukon - Central - small areas 25 Cyan
North West Territories 10 Blue
North West Territories - small areas 25 Cyan
North West Territories - small Central areas 60 Orange/red
North West Territories - far North ** 0 Dark Blue
Nunavut - South 25 Cyan
Nunavut - small Southern areas 60 Orange/red
Nunavut - North** 0 Dark Blue
Alberta - areas 10 Blue
Alberta - Eastern areas and foothills 25 Cyan
Alberta - Central - small areas 40 Yellow
Saskatchewan - South 40 Yellow
Saskatchewan - South central 60 Orange/red
Saskatchewan - central and North 25 Cyan
Saskatchewan - North - small areas 10 Blue
Manitoba - South 40 Yellow
Manitoba - South - small areas 50 Orange
Manitoba - North 25 Cyan
Manitoba - North - small areas 40 Yellow
Manitoba - North - small areas 10 Blue
Ontario - Lake Superior, Northern Georgian Bay 60 Orange/Red
Ontario 25 Cyan
Ontario - small areas 40 Yellow
Quebec 10 Blue
Quebec - South shores 25 Cyan
Quebec - Western areas 25 Cyan
Quebec - North - small areas 60 Orange/red
Quebec - Gulf of St. Lawrence 60 Orange/Red
New Brunswick 10 Blue
New Brunswick - Southern section - small areas 25 Cyan
Prince Edward Island (PEI) 10 Blue
Nova Scotia - offshore and coastal areas - Bay of Fundy 60 Orange/Red
Nova Scotia 25 Cyan
Nova Scotia - Cape Breton 70 Red
Newfoundland - Southeast and offshore 70 Red
Newfoundland - South 25 Cyan
Newfoundland - North 10 Blue
Labrador 10 Blue
Labrador - Southeast- offshore 60 Red

** There are very few lightning strikes on the North Coast, but lightning strikes can occur all year round.

Fast Canadian lightning facts

  • The approximate number of cloud to ground lightning flashes detected in Canada since the Canadian Lightning Detection Network (CLDN) began in 1998 is 34.0 million. 
  • The average number of lightning flashes per year in Canada is 2.2638 million.
  • The minimum number of lightning flashes in Canada in one year was 1.5709 million in 2009.
  • The maximum number of lightning flashes in Canada in one year was 2.9631 million in 2005.
  • The northern most lightning flash detected in Canada was detected at 74.004 degrees North and 102.6924 degrees West, over Viscount Melville Sound, Northwest of Prince of Wales Island. The lightning strike was recorded on August 11, 2003.
  • The month that is likely to have the most number of lightning flashes in Canada is July.
  • The most frequent time of day for lightning is between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. local time.
  • The greatest 10-year average number of days with lightning in Canada is an average of 32.3 a year, near Harrow, Ontario.
  • The Canadian region with the greatest annual number of days with lightning in any one year is inland of the north shore of Lake Erie near Highgate, Ontario.
  • The Canadian city with the greatest number of days with lightning in any one year is Windsor, Ontario, which had 47 days of lightning in 2006.
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