Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NOAA Research Yields New Tools For Lightning Prediction

Date:
July 15, 2005
Source:
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Summary:
Forecasters at the NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., now have additional tools to more accurately predict the occurrence of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flashes within thunderstorms. The lightning climatology and lightning prediction system helps meteorologists determine areas where these lightning flashes could threaten lives and property and start wildfires.

NOAA image of the NOAA Storm Prediction Center's fire weather outlook for the United States as of June 23, 2005.
Credit: Image courtesy of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

June 23, 2005 -- Forecasters at the NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., now have additional tools to more accurately predict the occurrence of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flashes within thunderstorms. The lightning climatology and lightning prediction system helps meteorologists determine areas where these lightning flashes could threaten lives and property and start wildfires.

Related Articles


Lightning that strikes the ground kills approximately 67 people each year and leaves hundreds of survivors with debilitating health effects. Each year, NOAA designates the last full week of June as Lightning Awareness Week to promote safe outdoor and indoor activities before, during and after lightning begins flashing.

CG lightning also causes many of the largest forest fires in the United States, especially in the West. These flashes are associated with dry thunderstorms that produce lightning but little rainfall. During the disastrous wildfire season of 2000 in the Northern Rockies, nearly all of the wildfires were started by lightning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Better prediction of thunderstorms, days in advance, will allow for better positioning of resources, including firefighters and equipment, on the ground to fight lightning-sparked fires while they are still small.

CG lightning was the focus of an eight-year climatology study for the period from 1995 to 2002 completed by Phillip Bothwell, NOAA Storm Prediction Center senior development meteorologist. While most researchers develop climatologies over long periods of time (monthly or yearly), Bothwell broke up his observations into five-day blocks of time in an effort to see if more detailed patterns emerged from shorter time periods. He also derived the climatologies for every three hours to see how lightning patterns changed during the day.

"A climatology serves as one type of objective guidance in predicting where lightning is more likely to occur," said Bothwell. "It serves as a predictor by giving forecasters an accurate sense of when and where storms tend to form so they can better advise people in that area."

Bothwell said one of the driving forces behind the climatology comes from his interest in extreme lightning events with a large number of flashes. With this lightning prediction system, forecasters can look at the probability of one or more lightning flashes in a 40 x 40 km grid box, equivalent to an average-sized county. They can also examine the probability of more extreme occurrences, such as 100 or more CG flashes in a grid box. These large flash events can be very dangerous and destructive to many types of electrical systems. In the United States, 20 to 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes occur each year and many of these CG flashes come from extreme lightning events.

"These storms with large numbers of lightning flashes are dangerous and destructive by themselves," Bothwell said. "In addition, they are often associated with severe weather such as tornadoes, hail, wind and flooding."

Forecasters can use the lightning climatology information, along with other observed and model data, to better pinpoint when and where lightning will occur. The NOAA Storm Prediction Center is currently producing experimental lightning forecasts extending three days into the future.

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center issues forecasts and watches for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes over the contiguous United States. SPC also monitors fire weather conditions, heavy rain and heavy snow events across the U.S. and issues specific national products for those hazards. Part of the NOAA National Weather Service's National Centers for Environmental Prediction, SPC meteorologists are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Established in Washington, D.C., in 1952, the center moved to Kansas City in 1954 and then to Norman in 1997.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. "NOAA Research Yields New Tools For Lightning Prediction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050710172547.htm>.
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. (2005, July 15). NOAA Research Yields New Tools For Lightning Prediction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050710172547.htm
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. "NOAA Research Yields New Tools For Lightning Prediction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050710172547.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Indictments in West Virginia Chemical Spill Case

Indictments in West Virginia Chemical Spill Case

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A grand jury indicted four former executives of Freedom Industries, the company at the center of the Jan. 9, 2014 chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia. The spill contaminated the Elk River and the water supply of 300,000 people. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins