For decades, children and adults alike have learned the motto, “When it thunders, stay indoors.” It’s a low-tech approach to staying safe when lightning may be right around the corner, but thanks to advances in forecasting products, weather Academics can get more advanced warnings.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, several weather forecasting stations around the country are using an experimental LightningCast product to determine who is most likely to see lightning an hour or more before an attack. .

Data are from the GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites, which constantly monitor the skies of North America.

Weather forecasters say sophisticated algorithms can recognize patterns in images that often precede lightning activity during thunderstorms. The output is displayed in an easy-to-read map and color-coded by confidence.

The National Weather Service’s offices in Birmingham, Alabama, are among those using the new product, which they believe will help predict when summer thunderstorms will occur.

A meteorologist at the NWS office said, “It’s given us an idea of ​​whether it will be one of the two afternoons or a 4pm event.

Static lightning mapper.
The GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites constantly monitor the skies of North America.

Weather forecasters have found this product useful when large outdoor events are being held and organizers are turning to experts to learn about weather forecasts and potential impacts.

The new product’s usefulness paid off in July when thousands of athletes gathered in central Alabama for the World Games.

NWS alerted event organizers to the emerging lighting threat, thanks in part to LightningCast products.

A deserted horse is seen in a thunderstorm.
If you have a large outdoor event, LightningCast can help.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Multiple lightning strikes.
An estimated 40 million strikes affect the United States each year.
S. Lissau/Classic Stock/Getty Images

The game has been postponed until the danger has moved across the region and meteorologists have cleared everything.

“Weather forecasters have given very positive feedback, saying that LightningCast often provides a practical lead time to the onset of lightning,” says National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. (NESDIS) said.

Outside of major events, where organizers are in touch with NWS offices, meteorologists say the public is likely not yet seeing the impact or warnings from advances in lightning detection.

Death by lightning.
In 2022, 14 people will be killed by lightning strikes across the United States.
fox weather

As this product becomes more accepted and widely used, it is hoped that not only will predictions improve, but alternative methods will be developed to keep everyone safe and informed. .

There are an estimated 40 million strikes each year in the United States, and about 20 people die from lighting effects.

So far in 2022, there have been 14 deaths nationwide, including three hiding under a tree near the White House and a mother waiting for her child outside a central Florida school.


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