Featured Link: Real-Time Lightning Map

Did you know that Lightning Strikes can be tracked and mapped? Lightning strikes emit significant RF energy in the kHz range, and this radio energy can be tracked and received at extremely long ranges.  Each lightning bolt itself acts as a large antenna, emitting a pulse of radio energy.  In fact, the first lightning detector was built in 1897 and was actually the first radio receiver in the world!

Learn more about Lightning Detection on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_detection

There have been lightning detection networks run by private companies for years (see: Vaisala’s NDLN), but there has been a new open-source detection network created by an organization called Blitzortung.  By creating a low-cost lightning detector design and providing the plans online, Blitzortung has created a real-time Lightning Detection network with impressive results!  Essentially, the system uses multiple lightning detectors combined with precise timestamps (using GPS Receivers) to calculate the location and timing of lightning strikes.

Lightningmaps.org Screen Shot

Each detector sends its data to a central calculation server, which combines the data for all sensors and provides excellent estimates for a lightning strike position and timing. As an open-source network, anyone can sign up to build and maintain a lightning detector!  See a map of existing coverage here; http://www.lightningmaps.org/extra/coverage?lang=en

Real Time Lightning Maps has an excellent map which overlays the Blitzortung Lightning Detection data over Google Maps and includes multiple other map layers and features (Link: http://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime.)  The level of detail available and the relatively short delay (we have seen anywhere from 1-10 seconds) in the tracking data combine to form an impressive tool! There are even “thunder” lines that appear on the map at high enough zoom settings, which show the propagation of thunder from each strike!

Here at NexTek we deal with Lightning Strikes and Radio Receivers every day as we share our expertise and provide first-class lightning arrestors for coaxial RF applications… We love to see advances that contribute to a better understanding of Lightning, and this tracking system does just that.   Follow the jump to learn more, play with the map, and possibly bookmark the site for later use!

Note:  NexTek has no affiliation with Blitzortung.org or Lightningmaps.org, and this lightning-tracking information is not to be relied upon for public or personal safety.
Blitzortung: http://blitzortung.org
Lightning Maps:  http://www.lightningmaps.org/