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Is an Internet Lightning Map Available?

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BirkenVogt

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I was wondering if anyone knows an online source for a lightning map. I have found some animated ones that are very nice that cover the last few hours but I was looking for something more like downstrokes within the last day or something of that nature.

Birken
 

RobertW1

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Most GOOD real time lightning maps require paid subscriptons. Here is a site that I use on my Weather Page. Although geared toward the Nevada Desert, it encompases Central and Southern California as well. But, it only covers the last couple of hours.

http://www.sord.nv.doe.gov/Lightning/sord_lightning-fast.htm

Do you have some nice animated sites for the Southern California area?
 
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pfish

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This may be a stupid question, but have you checked the NOAA website? I remember seeing a few different lightning maps on there, but I don't ever use them and I don't remember how to get to them. I'm not sure if those are what you are looking for though.
 

SLOweather

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Thanks for mentioning SLOweather!

Another lightning site is www.uspln.com.

BirkenVogt said:
I have been using http://www.sloweather.com/lightning.htm to give me current information, the Browns Valley and Lake Tahoe ones give me the closest info obviously. But I can't sit in front of the computer all day watching for lightning, it would be nice to find something I could check once a day.

Birken
 

SCPD

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You will not be able to access the best product availble used by wildland fire agencies such as the NPS, USFS, BLM, CDF, etc. I believe that one is provided via a contract the BLM awards and administers. I used to get printouts from that one and the level of detail was beyond anything you can get on the Internet now. I understand that the maps are now merged with USGS topos, if necessary.

A coworker of mine and excellent fire investigator once located the exact ignition point of a 8,000 acre High Sierra wildfire that the public was claiming had to be human caused. Using ground pounding investigation techniques and the lightning locater map he was able to determine the time (9 days prior to the first report of the fire) and location of the strike that started the fire. The public interest was high as the fire nearly caused the evacuation of the town of Mammoth Lakes. It seem that lightning stuck a tree on the banks of the middle fork of the San Joaquin River and it burned for some time until it fell with the trunk on the east side of the river and the top on the west side. It then burned slowly from the middle until it reached each bank. It had dried considerabaly in the intervening 9 days and when the fire reached each bank we had two columns of black smoke (heavy fuel involved which indicates an intense fire), each on opposite sides of the river. We did not have the advantage of the river providing a natual barrier to the spread of the fire during initial attack. We lost the fire big time less than 24 hours later.

The lightning map showed two strikes in that area on that day. The investigator found the other strike and determined through burn patterns that it had burned a short time and then went out and was later burned over by the fire from the first strike. After the results of this investigation were made public many local "know at alls, who really don't know anything" pronounced the investigation useless.

When I worked on the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest back in the late 70's our Ranger Station was selected to have a lightning detector receiver during the first widespread experiement of the technology. All we saw was a bunch of red, yellow, and green lights flash on the side of the unit. It was hooked up to the phone lines and some computer in a big city interpreted the data from each receiver. It was the beginning of the technology now being employed nationwide.

By the way this is a good place to mention "holdover" or "sleeper" fires. The nine day period between the strike and the discovery of the fire in the case above is fairly common. I personally verified 18 days between a strike which I happened to see hit a tree on top of a ridge and my being dispatched to the fire it later grew into. I've met people who have had similar experiences of 30 days. I've chased fire starts in May where roots burned over winter with snowpack underneath the fire lines of moderate (100-300 acre) sized fires from the previous late September-early October period.
 

BirkenVogt

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Most of the lightning fires I have been to it has been fairly obvious that it was lightning. Often the offending tree will have a big strip of wood dangling up high waiting to drop on someone's head.

Usually though the main difference is a man caused fire can basically be driven right into. A lightning fire normally takes half a day just to pinpoint its exact location. Let alone get resources on it. What a PITA sometimes

Birken
 
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