A global analysis of lightning during hurricanes has bolstered observations that the worst winds come a day after the bolts strike.

Forecasters struggle to predict peak hurricane winds. So Colin Price of Tel Aviv University in Israel and colleagues studied all category 4 and 5 hurricanes between 2005 and 2007. Out of 58 hurricanes, 56 showed a significant correlation between lightning activity and wind speed, with peak winds arriving 30 hours after the lightning on average. Price believes the lightning may be caused by a change in wind patterns (Nature Geoscience, DOI: link).

Previous sightings have hinted at a link, but Price's work puts this "on a firm statistical foundation", says Robert Holzworth of the University of Washington, Seattle. However, Steven Businger of the University of Hawaii argues that Price's lightning database was not detailed enough.