Lightning Detection Systems: All You Need To Detect Lightning


Lightning Detection Systems: All You Need To Detect Lightning

Oct 16, 2023
Colin Perry

Lightning strikes the U.S. about 25 million times a year, kills 20 or more people each year in the U.S. on average, and injures hundreds more. This is on top of the alarmingly high costs from lightning damage related to medical expenses and property damage.

But as technology has progressed, so have safety solutions like lightning detection systems. For things like outdoor events, school sports games and practices, and golf courses, lightning detection systems go a long way towards protecting people and infrastructure from lightning.

What is lightning detection?

Lightning detection is the process of identifying and locating lightning strikes produced by thunderstorms. Lightning detection systems track lightning strikes using the electromagnetic signals they emit. Newer lightning detection systems with advanced networks can pinpoint the exact location where lightning hits the ground, along with the strength and type of lightning flashes, almost instantly in real-time.

The systems use sensors, such as antennas, GPS receivers, and processing systems, to detect the radio waves (sferics) emitted by lightning channels. The systems then estimate the location and speed of the lightning bolt based on the time it takes for the frequency signal to reach the various antenna stations.

But how exactly do lightning detection systems work?

How do lightning detectors work?

Lightning detection systems rely on strategically placed sensors that pick up the electromagnetic signals produced by lightning. By analyzing the data from multiple sensors spread out over hundreds and even thousands of miles, the system can detect the exact location of the lightning strike.

What are lightning detection networks?

Imagine a web of lightning detectors spread across different regions, all working together to monitor lightning activity. That’s essentially what a Lightning Detection Network (LDN) is. Among the various LDNs out there, the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) stands above the rest. The National Lightning Detection Network’s sensors work by detecting radio waves emitted by fast electric current within the cloud in lightning channels.

By using a combination of ground-based lightning detectors, sensors, and satellite data, the NLDN provides accurate and comprehensive coverage of lightning activity and data across the United States.

Lightning safety for specific scenarios

Whether a school sports field, college campus, golf course, or a park, each needs tailored safety protocols for lightning strikes. 

Lightning safety for school athletics

Outdoor activities, whether it’s football practice or a track meet, expose students to potential lightning threats. Schools should implement clear lightning policies and procedures that cover everything from accurate monitoring and detection to designating predetermined safety locations. 

Having a lightning detection system adds a first-line defense and enhances district and school policies. These systems can send real-time lightning alerts, making sure students and coaches evacuate quickly. Plus, systems like Perry Weather’s are tied back to existing

Lightning safety for colleges & universities

With large campuses, crowds of students, staff, and visitors, and numerous outdoor events, universities and colleges have a pressing need for lightning safety. Implementing proactive measures like lightning detection, establishing clear visual and auditory warnings, and conducting regular safety drills are key steps. 

Using real-time alerts supports these measures to quickly inform and guide the campus community to safety during lightning threats.

Lightning detection safety for golf courses

With wide-open fairways, trees, and water hazards peppered throughout, golf courses are a prime target for lightning. Golfers, focused on their game and far from the safety of a clubhouse, are at greater risk. A lightning detection system for golf courses addresses these challenges, giving course managers immediate alerts and actions to take. 

Rapid lightning alerts enable play to be suspended quickly and makes sure golfers are evacuated safely. Additionally, lightning warning systems placed across the course offer crucial PA messages and sirens, letting golfers know what to do when lightning strikes.

Lightning safety for outdoor events

Events at large parks, like concerts, fairs, and festivals draw huge crowds, making safety in the wide-open spaces they occupy a top priority. Combining a cutting-edge detection system and communication tools provides event organizers with real-time weather conditions monitoring capabilities. Clear shelter signage and instant lightning alerts ensures a streamlined and safe evacuation, even with a large crowd.

For more information on lightning safety and policies, read our lightning policies and procedures guide.

Using lightning detection systems with lightning warning systems

When combined with a lightning detection system, outdoor lightning warning and alerting systems create a comprehensive safety net.

What are lightning warning systems? 

While lightning detection systems are designed to monitor and identify lightning activity in real-time, outdoor lightning warning systems use a combination of public announcements, sirens, and flashing lights to alert people of severe weather conditions. These outdoor warning systems are strategically positioned in areas prone to lightning to provide instant lightning alerts.

How to choose a lightning detection and warning system

When choosing a lightning detection system, it’s important to look beyond basic features and into details that differentiate one system from another. Key features of a top-tier detection system include real-time alerts, expansive coverage, accuracy, user-friendly interfaces, and seamless integration capabilities.

Let’s break down the comparisons:

Lightning Policy-Based Alerts and Warnings

Perry Weather: Easily Integrate your lightning policies to guide your staff in taking the right actions.

Known for its advanced weather monitoring capabilities, Perry Weather offers lightning warnings with unparalleled speed. The system boasts real-time alerts, a user-friendly dashboard, and integration with outdoor warning systems.

Its emphasis on data accuracy and a comprehensive approach to severe weather monitoring makes it a trusted choice for institutions and event organizers.

Earth Networks: While Earth Networks offers extensive lightning detection capabilities, their system falls short in user-interface and real-time alert features compared to Perry Weather. They have a long-standing reputation, but their approach leans more towards a broad spectrum of weather monitoring than specialized lightning detection.

DTN: DTN provides a robust lightning detection system, but its primary focus is on a wide range of meteorological services. While their lightning warning system is dependable, Perry Weather’s lightning warnings is one of its core services.

Learn more about how DTN WeatherSentry compares to Perry Weather

Thor Guard: Thor Guard offers lightning prediction rather than just detection. While predicting lightning can be useful, it isn’t nearly as accurate or beneficial as detection. Perry Weather, with its detection-based approach, provides more real-time and actionable data.

Learn more about how Thor Guard compares to Perry Weather

Why choose Perry Weather for lightning detection and warnings

Perry Weather stands out with lightning detection and warnings and its dedication to providing top-notch, reliable services.

Integrated Weather Policies: Perry Weather doesn’t just offer a tool; it offers a comprehensive solution. With integrated weather policies, users can ensure that they’re not only detecting lightning but also responding in the best way possible.

Trusted Network: Perry Weather’s reliance on the National Lightning Detection Network ensures best-in-class data. The NLDN is the gold standard in lightning data, trusted by notable organizations like NASA, the US Army, and the Coast Guard. By choosing Perry Weather, you’re aligning with a system that even the highest governmental bodies trust.

Real-time Alerts: In the face of potential lightning threats, every second counts. Perry Weather’s system provides real-time alerts, ensuring that you’re always a step ahead and can take necessary precautions promptly.

Customizable Dashboard: With Perry Weather, you’re in control. The dashboard can be customized to show the information you need to see, includes useful widgets, and ensures that you’re always on top of the situation and can act swiftly.

Ready to take action?

The unpredictability of weather, especially lightning, requires a system that’s both reliable and efficient. For schools, golf courses, and various outdoor events, Perry Weather’s lightning detection and warning system is a game-changer. 

With its real-time alerts, customizable dashboard, and trusted network, it ensures safety and peace of mind. Ready to enhance your lightning detection capabilities? Contact us for more information or sign up for a free trial today.

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