Lightning Detection
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Lightning Detection

Real Time Lightning Strike Viewer for AlaskaClick here for a lightning activity viewer centered on our laboratory coordinates of N61° 11' 57.48" : W149° 57' 23.04" at Anchorage, AK  USA

This lightning activity viewer shows local time; local time is UTC-9 for Alaska Standard Time (AST) and UTC-8 for Alaska Daylight Time (ADT).  The viewer is updated at 1 minute intervals and is near real-time (there is a delay of a 0 to 2 minutes between an actual event and it appearing on the display).

The display azimuth is referenced to True North; some azimuth distortion may exist in the northern regions of the displayed map.  The display distance is based on factory calibration and has not been locally calibrated. 

Viewer controls available at the top of the display are

  • History: 30 minutes (default) and 60 minutes
  • Range: 300 km and 600 km (default)
  • Event: Loop Stop (default) or Loop Run

The viewer shows the last 30 minutes (default) or 60 minutes of lightning strike history.  To run a continuous, speeded-up loop of the last 30 or 60 minutes, Click Run.

Lightning Strike Screen Capture Videos for AlaskaClick here for lightning strike screen capture videos of some Alaska lightning storms during summer 2008.

Mount Redoubt Lightning Strike Screen Capture Videos:  Mt. Redoubt, about 170 km southwest of our observatory, started pre-eruption seismic activity on January 25, 2009 and finally erupted March 22, 2009 at around 2238 Alaska Daylight Savings Time (March 23 0638 UTC).  Our lightning detection system logged lightning activity in the area of Mt. Redoubt about 25 minutes later.  As of April 4, 2009,eruptions continue with ash clouds in some cases exceeding 60,000 ft AMSL.  Click here for lightning strike screen capture videos associated with the eruption.

System Description:  This system uses a Boltek StormTracker receiver, which is a PCI card, and the Boltek ANT-1 antenna.  The receiver is installed in a Shuttle K45 PC equipped with an Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2220, 2.4GHz processor and running Microsoft Windows XP SP-3 operating system.  The PC is connected to the laboratory LAN and is dedicated to lightning strike, geomagnetometer (click here for information on our geomagnetometer) and weather logging (click here for information on our weather data system). 

The Boltek ANT-1 outdoor antenna performs significant signal processing prior to sending the data to the receiver.  It is enclosed in a weatherproof enclosure made up in our shop and is mounted above the building structure at a height of about 6 m AGL.  Site elevation is approximately 14 m AMSL and is slightly more than 200 m south of the shores of Cook Inlet.

Click here for Receiver Setup Block Diagram

Click here for Antenna Enclosure Details

The StormTracker detects and categorizes lightning strikes as follows: 

  • Negative cloud-ground (-CG)
  • Positive cloud-ground (+CG)
  • Negative inter-cloud (-IC)
  • Positive inter-cloud (+IC)

Astrogenic NexStorm™ software (screen shot below) runs on the K45 PC, collects data from the receiver and uploads it by FTP to this web.  The K45 is dedicated to lightning strike data and weather data collection.

Installation was completed June 16, 2008 using the Boltek LD-250 standalone lightning detector; however, the LD-250 failed about 1 month later and was replaced on July 27, 2008 by the StormTracker PCI receiver.

Coverage:  This lightning detection system conceivably covers the entire state of Alaska except the Aleutian Islands west of Unimak Island.  Detection capability and accuracy decreases with increasing distance, so events at the extreme ranges may never be detected or may be displayed with inaccurate distance.  We regularly log summer lightning activity in Interior Alaska at 400 - 500 km range.

This system is experimental and is NOT to be used for protection of life or property.

Photographs of Antenna Installation

The antenna is housed in a painted (orange) enclosure made from
ABS pipe to protect it from the weather.  The pipe is mounted on
the end of 3/4 in. galvanized rigid steel conduit for support about
3 m above the deck.  Unrelated high-frequency, long-wire antennas
can be seen to the right of the lightning detector antenna.  Click
here for Antenna Enclosure Details