Spring Storms

March 24, 2006

There were just a few scattered lightning strikes today, mainly offshore, but we are entering the season now where it’s quite a bit easier to hear a rumble of thunder west of the Cascades. The reason is that the land is beginning to warm up, yet we still have chilly air overhead to give us unstable conditions (depending on the weather pattern at the time of course).  Lightning2_3 Click on the image to see it full-sized.

This brings up a question a viewer emailed me today.  George from Tigard asks where he can find a link to live lightning information.  Here’s the deal.  There is national lightning detection network (the U.S. NLDN®) that  constantly detects lightning discharges to ground. Each lightning event, called a flash, is recorded at the NLDN Network Control Center at Vaisala’s Tucson Operations. Each plus sign on the map represents one recorded flash.  Since one company runs all the sensors, you have to pay for the data.  Because of that we can not redistribute the information (oops, hopefully the lightning police won’t be showing up at my door tomorrow!).

So there isn’t any "live" lightning strike information on the internet.  You have to pay for it, and it isn’t cheap.  Go here if you are interested: https://thunderstorm.vaisala.com/

In the future lightning could be detectable from space (NOAA is working on it now).  If so, that means cloud-cloud strikes would be detected too.  Most likely that would be free information if the government is the one collecting the data at that point.

Enjoy the weekend, it’ll be a bit chilly, but some dryness hopefully early Saturday and late Sunday…Mark