Lightning struck near the North Pole 48 times. It's not normal.
A warmer Arctic in general provided the fuel for lightning-producing thunderheads to move north.
Lightning happens all the time, but certain parts of the world get far less of it than others, including near the North Pole. Lightning requires atmospheric instability, something that’s set up when cold, parched air sits atop warmer, wetter air. At very high latitudes, that hotter, damper air tends not to show up.
That’s why it took scientists by surprise when dozens of lightning strikes were detected within 300 nautical miles of the North Pole this past weekend. In fact, it was so unusual that it was highlighted on Twitter by the National Weather Service’s office in Fairbanks, Alaska. A bulletin of theirs said this was “one of the furthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory.”