So I’m in my house one day last year as storm rolled in overhead. Dark clouds rained down, thunderous booms rumbled, and, off in the distance like God’s own strobe, lightning. I’m at my desk asking myself all the usual questions one does in such situations: Which direction is the storm tracking? Who pissed off the powers that be? Was that last strike closer? And that most critical question of the 21st century: will the power stay on long enough for me to meet my project deadline?
A little websploration later, and I discovered a very fun tool: Lightning Maps.
A project from Blitzortung.org, the site uses crowd-sourced data from a community of contributors with strike sensors:
“Blitzortung.org” is a lightning detection network for locating electromagnetic discharges in the atmosphere (lightning discharges) with VLF receivers based on the time of arrival (TOA) and time of group arrival (TOGA) method.
Lightning emits radio waves detectable from thousands of miles, if you have the right sensor. With more than 500 sensors, the network displays data from America, Europe and Oceania.
Think this is extra cool, have some skill with electronics and want to join in? Keep an eye on the Blitzortung forums to see when their next batch of sensors is available for purchase and deployment.
While the site makes it clear that the data are not suited for insurance or protection of life and property, it’s still a fun resource. I recommend it for anyone interested in a dynamic view of one of nature’s most dramatic forces.
Would you like to know more?
I prefer the beauty and simplicity of Lightning Maps but there are a number of alternatives. Visit Blitzortung.org for real-time and historical maps, or any of the alternative lightning maps at the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), the European Cooperation for Lightning Detection (EUCLID), and of course, NASA.
Next time a big storm comes through I plan to cuddle up with a bowl of popcorn and ooh-ahh over the latest lightning strikes… at least until the power goes out:)
#Lightning pierces the sky above Colorado National Monument during a #sunset #storm in #Colorado. Photographer Rick Schafer caught this amazing photo of the Coke Ovens rock formation — which he calls “A Scratch in the Sky” — on a recent spring evening. Photo courtesy of Rick Schafer. #usinterior #findyourpark