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Expand chart
Adapted from Vaisala data; Map: Harry Stevens/Axios

Every second on Earth, 100 lightning bolts strike the planet. That's about 8 million strikes per day, and 3 billion a year, on average. But as this map of nearly 9 billion lightning strikes shows, lightning is not evenly distributed around the world.

The bottom line: Each continent, except for the frozen reaches of Antarctica, has lightning hotspots — usually the parts that have clashing air masses or mountains. Spin the map and see where you're at the greatest risk of getting zapped.

How it works: Generally, these hotspots can be found in areas where air masses are frequently clashing, leading to the rising motion of air that spawns the massive cumulonimbus clouds that produce lightning. In addition, mountainous regions can also act as thunderstorm factories of sorts.

The company Vaisala operates a global lightning detection network, known as GLD360, that tracked nearly 8.8 million lightning strikes between 2013 and 2017. According to Vaisala meteorologist Ron Holle, precise lightning distribution patterns differ from year to year based on variations in the weather.

Over time, though, patterns do emerge:

  • In North America, the region popularly known as "Tornado Alley" in the Great Plains is a lightning hotspot, along with the Gulf Coast.
  • In South America, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Colombia see the most lightning strikes.
  • In Africa, the lightning capital is the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Australia's northern coast is a lightning magnet, since it borders the tropics.
  • In Asia, northeast India, Sumatra, and Malaysia rank as the top lightning strike locations , based on Vaisala's data.

As the climate changes in response to greenhouse gas emissions as well as natural variability, the distribution of lightning is also changing. For example, the past few summers have featured an unusually high number of lightning strikes in Alaska.

Go deeper: What scientists still don't know about lightning

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.