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November 2023 will go down in history as a month unlike any previously seen in recorded Australian meteorological history.

Never before has so much lightning been recorded across Australia, with Weatherzone’s Total Lightning Network detecting 40,465,119 individual lightning pulses over the Australian region during November.

You can watch the lightning show in the video at the top of this story, with each tiny silver cross representing a pulse of lightning – and it begs the question: before November, what was the previous record for lightning strikes?

Lightning in all eight states and territories on the evening of Saturday, November 25, 2023. There were a lot of days in the month like this. (Weatherzone)

Unfortunately, that’s not an easy one to answer.

Right now, lightning detection is a relatively new piece of publicly available weather tech, a bit like when weather radar became available to consumers around the turn of the century.

Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino told 9news.com.au that his company’s Total Lightning Network data only goes back to 2015 and that new lightning sensors are constantly being added to the network, which effectively makes comparisons between years meaningless in these early days of lightning data collection.

Severe storms swept western NSW on Tuesday bringing heavy rain, strong winds and hail as well as thousands of lightning strikes. This photo was taken near Nyngan. (Nine)

But Domensino did add that November was a truly remarkable month in terms of the consistency of storm activity in all eight states and territories over virtually the entire 30-day duration of the month.

“Anecdotally, when you have one big thunderstorm outbreak, you might have more than a million lightning strikes over Australia,” he said.

“But we saw almost continuous storm activity during the day and night over every state and territory, which was very unusual.”

A fast-moving storm swept a NSW town overnight, leaving spectators stunned. Crystal Perry captured an incredible lightning strike at Mullumbimby rugby club oval around 8.30pm on Thursday. The oval is also used as camp grounds. (Supplied)

Domensino cited three main reasons for the abundance of electrical activity in the atmosphere in November.

  • Abnormally warm sea surface temperatures surrounding Australia provided abundant moisture for storm development
  • A positive Southern Annular Mode (SAM) during the first half of the month helped to further increase moisture levels over the country’s east and southeast
  • A wavy jet stream over Australian longitudes caused weather systems to slow down and produce lengthy spells of storms over the region.

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